Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Vedavati: from the Devi Mahatmyam

Vedavati: The Extraordinary Previous Birth of Shri Sita
from the Devi Mahatmyam

Rathadhwaja was a King, who’s forefathers had respected Goddess Laxmi but the attention on A-Laxmi (principles against Laxmi Tattwa) were on the rise. In their traditions the attention on the true Laxmi Tattwa degenerated over the generations and there came a time when the light of the blessing was nowhere. As the external events in a kingdom follow its subtle collective state, Rathadhwaja faced defeat in battles and lost all the kingdom and posessions. But his sons Kushadhwaja and Dharmadhwaja realized the subtle reason’s behind the calamity and meditated on Shri Laxmi, inviting her to grace their family again. Shri Laxmi, pleased with their realization and humility, blessed them with Her own birth in the household.

Shri Laxmi was born as a daughter to Malavati and Kushadhwaja. Being a divine personality she was full of grace and accompanied by auspicious signs during Her birth. The Vedas were on Her lips at a tender age, and hence She become reknowned as Vedavati. Being a high souled personality, she was clear about Her purpose on the earth and travelled to the holy land of Pushkara to meditate on the Highest Cause. On the other hand, through Her advent, the position of the family was restored in the world as the ruling family. During her penances and meditations a point came where She was blessed with an announcement from the heavens: “You have achieved the state where you will marry Shri Vishnu Himself, but not before being born again.” Vedavati continued her meditation, knowing Her self and Her high destiny.

It was probably the need to wait for the perfect time before the divine pair of Laxmi-Narayana came on the earth, because in the time of Her next birth She became Shri Sita who married Vishnu-incarnate Shri Rama. However, the divine play had not been over in this birth for her, as She met the asura Ravana during Her life as Vedavati.

The Ravana episode unviels reasons behind the divine play of Ramayana, where Shri Sita became the cause of Ravana’s death and destruction. Ravana was an extremely accomplished, arrogant and torturous ruler. In his power and glory he had no recognition or respect for Shri Narayana or other divine personalities. All deities were displeased with him and all creatures were oppressed by him. He collected taxes. Those who could not pay, like hermits in forests, had to pay with their flesh and blood. His rule was a reign of terror, which needed an end.

However, during the life of Vedavati, Ravana was travelling by air and made a stopover at Vedavati’s hermitage. She, bringing forth Her true gracious nature, hosted Ravana as a guest and made his visit hospitable. Seeing the absolute divine form of Vedavati, he enquired about Her life. She told him about Her nature, Her penance and Her distiny, including her future life with Shri Vishnu. Ravana, being covered in ego, laughed and derided Vedavati’s destiny. He proposed marriage to her and to make his point called the high-souled Narayana an inferior being to him. In a last attempt he tried to force Vedavati into his control by pulling Her hair, which brought Her rage forward. She declared: “You have attempted to cast your shadow over me and hence I will give up this tainted body to the hermitage fire, but I will be your cause of destruction and death, Ravana!”

Years passed and while Raja Janaka ploughed the fields during the oppressive times of Ravana-rule, he hit upon an earthen object with his plough. From the forrows of the earth came Shri Sita, with Riddhi-Siddhi on the sides. Riddhi-Siddhi dissappeared instantaneously and the true nature of Shri Sita was revealed to Raja Janaka. Later, in the swayamwara ceremony, Shri Rama married Shri Sita. But truly intriguing is the episode with Agni devata during Rama’s exile.

During the exile, when Shri Rama, Sita and Laxmana were in the forests, Shri Agni devata came forth and informed Shri Rama of the divine destiny of Ravana’s destruction. Since the true nature of Shri Sita was that of the Adishakti, Ravana cannot bear to face her. Hence, Agni devata brought forth a “Chhaya Sita” i.e. Shri Sita’s shadow for the fulfillment of the divine purpose. Shri Sita took refuge in the fire untill the task of destroying Ravana was over. Ravana took the Chhaya Sita and Shri Raama defeated him and ended his time on earth.

Shri Sita, the worldmother, returned to her original form during the “agni-pariksha”. The agni actually took away the Chaaya Sita and returned the original pure Janaki. This wonderful set of events that gives a fresh perspective on the Ramayana we have heard and seen is found between the covers of the Devi Mahatmyam.

Jai Shri Mataji


Erwin Ebens said...

Thank you very much for sharing this beautiful narration. I hadn't read it before and didn't know these details.

Erwin Ebens said...
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