Cheat Sheet Fact of Life: No matter how many times you read mythology, it always teaches you something new.
Devdutt Pattanaik’s book, Sita is an illustrated retelling of Ramayana, which focuses on Sita. It is the power of mythology that no matter how many times we read it, we never get bored. Devdutt maintained that charm. The book was a good read.
What I loved in this book was the fluid writing style of the author and the pictures. The pictures are simple caricatures and in a few strokes the pictures reveal the emotions of the characters.
I always admired Sita. Sita is a woman of strength and character. The first time she was asked to prove her purity, she does it. The second time, she calls upon Mother Earth to take her in, because she was tired of a husband who doubts her for the sake of others.
There are a few interesting aspects I learned from this book
I loved the confidence and the understanding nature of Sita. Laxman was given the responsibility of leaving Sita in the forest. When Laxman shows anger on Ram’s decision, Sita tells him, ‘Ram is God – he abandons no one. I am Goddess – I cannot be abandoned by anyone’.
The book also tells about why Ram is called as Maryada Purushottam, which means a person who abides by the rules of the society without caring about the feelings of the loved ones. Ram left his father Dasaratha to go to forest for 14 years in spite of his father’s bidding to not leave. As a result of his decision he caused Dasaratha’s heart break and death. He abandoned Sita when she was pregnant with his sons because the people of Ayodhya doubted the character of Sita. He was responsible for his brother, Laxman’s death. He ordered Laxman to uphold his word of killing anybody who entered Ram’s room while he was resting. Unfortunately Laxman was the person who entered the room, so he cut his own head. In the next incarnation, Vishu is born as Krishna, who twists all the rules and caters to satisfying many women.
Devdutt also writes about the angst of separation that Ram goes through when he is away from Sita. He tells that in Sita’s company, the forest felt like a palace. The palace without Sita gave him no comfort. Ram lives in a palace; hence he has to abide by the rules of the society. He left Sita in the forest where there are no rules. She is free to do as she pleases. In this way, Sita was independent of Ram whereas Ram was still dependent on Sita. Ram longed for Sita every single moment but yet upheld his decision of being away from her.
It is a book which will keep you hooked even if you have read Ramayana many times before.