Thoughts

  • Does Ramayana qualify for a feminist fiction?

    • Post Ram and Sita’s homecoming, Sita was asked to give a chastity test, and she left the palace after proving herself. She could have left without undergoing the test but then the public would have indeed believed that she was at fault.
      Whether Ramayana is based on true events or if it’s a fictional tale it doesn’t matter, in either case Sita’s character is liberating.
      • Does Ramayana end on Ram’s victory?
        The events after homecoming of Ram and Sita are not as much celebrated/discussed as compared with the celebration of character of Ram or the idea of winning of good over evil.
        Shows how patriarchy is deep-rooted in our society.
  • A thoughtful read, it talks about the unpopular sides of the Ramayana, the female sides.
    Whether you believe Ramayana is a real historic episode or a fiction, it makes you think from the lens of the other characters.

    • I have heard few of these stories (of Urmila, Surpnakha) from my mum, I asked her if she read this book, she didnt, she must have explored this topic or came across somewhere.
  • Disconnect in story jumps:
    I understand Ramayana is a pre-read for this and there are timeline jumps in every chapter to compare and make a point, but these timeline jumps are (sometimes) vague, and I was not sure what Ramayana’s chapter I have been teleported into. I think it should have been explicitly mentioned, though it could be that the information was lost because of the translation.

  • Sometimes I felt the author was too harsh on other characters, Ram in particular, to empathize with women, Sita in particular. Sita was portrayed as the pure white lady, one without flaws. I believe this was done to present the case of women, to emphasize with the injustice against a section. For example,

Captures

Chapter 1:

  • Never loathe people for their looks. She has grown a very nice garden even though she is ugly

  • Do women exist only to be used by men to settle their scores?
  • No man will ever love her. The man who loved me abandoned me. Have the two stories become one and the same, finally?

  • Stopping Surpanakha before she could complete the question, Sita said with quiet dignity,

    • Shouldnt known by husband
  • I have been able to find happiness in trying to understand the very meaning of beauty.

  • there is no difference between beauty and ugliness in nature. I observed many living creatures and understood that movement and stillness are one and the same.

  • ‘I’ve realized that the meaning of success for a woman does not lie in her relationship with a man. Only after that realization, did I find this man’s companionship.’
  • ‘During your journey into the forest, other than this devastation, did nothing wonderful happen, Rama?’

  • men consider women objects of enjoyment.
  • ‘Each one to their own truth. Does anyone in this world have the power to decide between truth and untruth?’
  • Did I see through his disguise? That is the question that bothers many people in this world. But to my husband, the question was irrelevant.

  • His property, even if temporarily, had fallen into the hands of another. It was polluted. Pollution, cleanliness, purity, impurity, honour, dishonour — Brahmin men have invested these words with such power that there is no scope in them for truth and untruth. No distinction.’

  • He is unlike other men,’

  • ‘All men are the same, Sita. Especially in the matter of their wives.’

  • enquire,

  • What does conducting an enquiry imply, Sita? Distrust, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better, instead, to believe in either your innocence or guilt?’

  • It becomes easier if I accept that I have made a mistake. Then there is atonement for every sin. If I argue that I have not made any mistake, they will take pity on me. They will take my side, seeing me as the victim of an unjust allegation. But if I say, “Right or wrong, it’s my business, what has it to do with you? Who gave you the right or authority to judge”, then nobody will be able to tolerate it.’
  • ‘Society gave him that authority. I didn’t. Till I give it, no one can have that authority over me.’
  • ‘Truth does not remain the same forever but keeps changing continuously — that is the wisdom I earned.’

  • She wanted the comfort of Rama’s presence immediately.

  • ‘Never agree to a trial, Sita. Don’t bow down to authority.’

  • War is for demonstrating the valour of men. Rama has proved his heroism. He is awaiting the demonstration of his wife’s chastity. Isn’t this what Ahalya called distrust?

  • He is helpless. A weakling. But against whom? Not against Ravana but against society. Against its moral principles, its code of justice.

  • ‘There is no better path to wisdom than experience,

  • ‘I agreed to the trial only for the sake of Rama, not for my own.’

  • No one counsels women to find out what that something more is. If men’s pride is in wealth, or valour, or education, or caste–sect, for women it lies in fidelity, motherhood.

  • Conquering the ego becomes the goal of spirituality for men. For women, to nourish that ego and to burn themselves to ashes in it becomes the goal.
  • Observe nature and the evolution of life.

  • ‘Sita, shall I tell you what the truth is in my case?’

  • refusing to bow down to external authority, Sita had fully experienced, for the first time, the inner power of self-authority.

  • the responsibility of spreading the dharma in the entire southern plain.’

  • To blindly carry out a father’s wish without thinking about justice or injustice.

  • ‘Your husband will not give you permission.

  • ‘A woman thinks she doesn’t have a world other than that of her husband’s. True. But some day that very husband will tell her that there is no place for her in his world. Then what’s left for her? She thinks giving birth to sons is the ultimate goal of her life. But those sons become heirs to their father, and even before we realize it, they leave her hands and go under the wing of their father. They submit to his authority. Or they begin to legislate our lives.

  • ‘When I’ve taught you all that I can, there’ll be nothing left for your father to teach.’ ‘Does that mean you know more than Father does?’

  • ‘Amma, please teach us that skill. If we master it by the time Father comes and demonstrate it to him, he will be surprised, won’t he?’

  • Would they not run to their father if he called them?

  • As a mother she had no power over them. Power never fascinated her anyway. She only had love—

  • Ahalya, Renuka, Sita—they were all victims of mistrust and humiliation.

  • The awareness that she was one of them gave her strength.
  • he exulted that his epic was going to end on a happy note with the union of Sri Rama and his sons.

  • How nice it would have been had she come to the court once and proved her innocence as their father desired!

  • Fourteen years—how did she live without talking to anyone and without meeting her own people?

  • Why didn’t Lakshmana bring Urmila?

  • ‘The interest you show in archery and in the outdoors—you don’t in other matters, Sita!’

  • The thought that I’m protecting you gives me greater pride and pleasure than sovereignty over Ayodhya,’

  • You must look towards me for protection. You must turn to my strong arms for protection. If you take care of yourself, what am I for?
  • ‘Akka, initially I did close these doors in anger. My husband left me without uttering a word to me, without any concern for my opinion, without even giving me a thought, devoting himself entirely to his brother. That day I burned in fury.

  • No one even looked at me. In helpless anger, I too decided not to look at anyone.

  • Change is the sign of life. The course of our future depends on the value he attaches to that change.

  • Power is the root cause of all sorrow, Akka. Do you know another strange thing? We must acquire this power. And then give it up. I shall not submit to anyone’s power. Nor will I bind anyone with my power. Then I will feel I have liberated myself. I will feel only joy within myself! Great peace! Much love! Compassion for all!

  • ‘I knew, Akka, that you would understand. That’s why I broke my silence today.

    • 14 years dont change Sita?
  • Assume authority. Give up power. Then you’ll belong to yourself. Then you’ll be yourself. We should remain ourselves.

  • ‘Why should that question trouble you? If at all, it should occur to Rama. Or to those who are going to conduct the yaga. Isn’t it foolish to get anxious about unnecessary things?’

  • It was also not easy to bear the sorrow that came out of the joy of loving Rama.

  • During the period of transition, the lives of the people who are key to the change go haywire.
  • what the duties of a king were, of a son, and of a kshatriya

  • Boundaries were drawn for Sita as well.

  • My life will have to lie suppressed under authority. Thanks to our mother, Kaikeyi, I could live in freedom with Sita for thirteen years in the forest.
  • Giving him his sons, the joy of their embrace—she had saved him, as always.

  • Who knew that Sita was Sri Rama’s protective charm?