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The Story of Vedavathy & Sita

“…He expected to meet a Rishi but to his amazement the occupant was a lovely young damsel, clad in deer skin with matted hair.  She was in mediation.  The brilliance emanating from the young lady nearly blinded him.  Her exquisite loveliness seemed to be glowing.  Ravana was enthralled.  Waking up from her mediation she opened her beautiful eyes and saw Ravana.  Never had he seen such loveliness.”  Mrs. Gauri Menon narrates a story from the great epics.

Ravana, the king of the Rakshasas, was one day travelling in his aeroplane, Pushpaka Vimana, and looking down.  He was captivated by the sight of the glorious forests.  He landed in a comfortable valley to enjoy a closer view.  At that moment he was buoyant with joy and pride.  He had just finished his long, arduous penance and, god Siva pleased with his devotion, appeared before him and gave him the great weapon - Chandrahasa.

To his surprise, Ravana saw a hermitage close by.  He expected to meet a Rishi but to his amazement the occupant was a lovely young damsel, clad in deer sin with matted hair.  She was in mediation.  The brilliance emanating from the young lady nearly blinded him.  Her exquisite loveliness seemed to be glowing.  Ravana was enthralled.  Waking up from her meditation she opened her beautiful eyes and saw Ravana.  Never had he seen such loveliness.  "There is no lovelier maiden who would not bow to you, O, best of ladies, how come you are wasting your youth in this way?  You should be in all luxury!  Whose daughter are you?  Are you Urvasi? Or are you Menaka?" Ravana said feeling it should surely be a celestial beauty.

With a gentle serene smile the maiden answered "Devaguru Brihaspathi is my grandfather and I am the daughter of his son Rishi Kusadwaja.  Both my father and grandfather being well versed in Veda, I have been given the name Vedavathy.  Many suitors came for my hand, but my father had his mind only the lotus-eyed Madhava as his son-in-law.  To fulfill my father’s wish I decided to do penance and please Madhava.  The suitors were all so angry with my father at his decision and killed him.   My mother soon died of grief.  So you see that I am still at my penance.

"O, Ravana, I have heard of your might-also have you achieved great power by praying to Siva.  I wish you well.   Now may you please go your way."

Ravana was so captivated by her beauty that he had other thoughts, being a Rakshasa.   Getting down from his Pushpaka Vimana, he went near her and said "No, my love, the Vishnu you are praying to is inferior to me in power, I assure you.  No I cannot allow you to waste your youth and loveliness thinking of him."  "Stop uttering unholy words in my presence", Vedavathy responded in all dignity.  Ravana had just one thought. Make Vedavathy his queen, by force if needed.  In a flash he grabbed her long flowing matted hair.  Shivering with rage she raised her hand and ... it turned into a sword.  With that she cut her lovely hair.  "No, I do not want to live in this body contaminated by your touch. I am destroying it in fire right now. I am going to be a new- born infant girl in my next birth in a field.  A king will discover me and bring up as his daughter. From that moment O, Ravana, I assure you your tragedy begins.  Not only you but your whole family will perish".  With these words Vedavathy, the lovely maiden burnt herself to ashes in her Yaga Mahagni (holy fire). From the sky Devas threw celestial flowers all around the place. Ravana stood dazed.

Vedavathy returned to earth as Sita, daughter of king Janaka.  She was obtained in the Yaga vedi from the tip of a plough (Sita) and hence came to be known as Sita and was brought up as the princess of Mithila dynasty

The rest of the story is known to everyone.  Sita married Lord Rama.  Not only Ravana but also his whole family was destroyed through Sita, Vedavathy’s curse getting fulfilled thus.

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