Shatashloki 36: Sita, Rama and Lakshmana leave for the forests.

Sītā pyanugatā rāmaśaśinaṃ rohinī yathā

Paurai ranugato dūraṃ pitrā daśarathena ca.

Meaning- Just as star Rohini perpetually follows the moon, Sita too followed Rama when He left for the forest. King Dasharatha and the citizens followed Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, for up to a little distance and bid them goodbye.

Rama consoled his grieving mother Koushalya and having pacified her, together with Lakshmana, reached the residence of Sita. As He entered his own house, Sita came out eagerly to receive Him. She noticed the solemn face of her husband who was entering with his head slightly bowed. Having immersed herself in the rituals for the ceremony, she was totally ignorant of the latest developments in the kingdom. She trembled seeing his face and his perturbed looks. She found out all the details from Him.

Having heard it all, Sita decided that she would accompany him to the forest. In order to dissuade her, Rama explained in great detail, all the hardships that one had to face while living in a forest. He tried hard to convince her to change her mind. But nothing could deter her. She firmly stood her ground and asserted that She would walk along with him. A great discussion ensued between the two and finally Rama gave in and agreed to take her along.

Happily, Sita took off all her ornaments and set them aside. She together with Rama and Lakshmana got ready to leave for the forest. All of them went and offered prostrations to all the mothers and to their father. Addressing Dasharatha, Rama said, “O King, I am leaving for Dandakaranaya. Kindly permit me”. At that minute, Dasharatha asked Rama to rule the kingdom. Rama vowed on Dharma and Satya (righteousness and truth) and declined the offer stating that he would choose to go to Dandakaranya. Everyone grieved at Rama’s insistence on abiding by Dharma.

Dasharatha summoned his minister Sumantra and ordered that Rama should be sent with all due honours. Upon hearing this statement, Kaikeyi, unhesitatingly commanded, “Rama is to live like a hermit and not like a king.” She brought the clothes of fibre/jute (that are worn by sages) that she had already kept ready and asked Rama, Sita to wear them.

Rama and Lakshmana immediately changed their attire. Sita however was baffled, not knowing how to wear them. Noticing her predicament, Rama went to her and in the presence of everyone, demonstrated to her, how to wear them, upon her silken sari. Seeing this, all the womenfolk and maids of Kaikeyi’s palace cursed Kaikeyi for this situation into which she had put Sita.

Maharishi Vashistha was angered and addressed Kaikeyi, “The whole kingdom, including Bharata will go away with Rama. You can enjoy all the comforts and luxuries and continue to live in this deserted city all alone”.

Dasharatha then ordered Sumantra to fetch a chariot and to ensure that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were dropped off at the boundary of the kingdom. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana bowed to everyone.

Sumitra addressed her son Lakshmana and said, “Lakshmana, always remember that your brother Rama is your sole refuge. Do not even be a trifle negligent in looking after his needs. Rama is your father. Sita is your mother. Consider the forest as Ayodhya and serve him to the best of your ability. May it be auspicious”.

Sita, followed Rama and happily got into the chariot. All the citizens, young and old were struck with agony. They could not hold back their tears. They were asking Sumantra to hold the reins and to drive the chariot very slowly. Rama, unable to see the grieving faces of the citizens, whom he loved so dearly, addressed Sumantra and requested that the chariot be driven fast. Dasharatha, who was following the chariot was screaming that the chariot should be stopped. Having followed the chariot for some distance, the grieving king stopped. He stood there and watched the chariot till it was out of sight. At last, in great distress, he turned back.


Om Seeta Ramabhyaam namaha.

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