Mithila

Sita

Janaka the king of Mithila was childless since many years. He prayed to Lord Vishnu and asked for a child. Vishnu blessed him and said that his wish would soon be fulfilled by the mother earth.

But days passed and there was no sign of a new arrival ln the royal family. Janaka’s longing for a child increased but he had faith in Vishnu’s word. Then one day came the festival of sowing when the king of the land initiated the year’s sowing by himself ploughing a field.

When Janaka started the ceremonial ploughing, much to his chagrin the plough got stuck in the soil and refused to budge. After much pulling and pushing, the earth around the plough was dug up to set it free. To the surprise of Janaka and others gathered there, they found that a bejewelled casket was the reason why the plough had got stuck. Their surprise turned into a pleasant shock when they saw that the casket contained a baby girl.

King Janaka guessed that Lord Vishnu’s boon had been fulfilled. He gratefully took the baby girl home and named her Sita to commemorate the fact that she was the daughter of the eafth. (Incidentally in Sanskrit the word ‘Sita’ is also used to mean ‘land’).

The girl Sita, grew up as janak’s daughter and was eventually married to Rama with whom she spent 14 years in exile during which she was kidnapped by the demon-king Ravana and was rescued by Rama after a fierce battle was fought at Lanka. After this Sita gave birth to two to two sons Luv and Kush. But unfortunately she had to bring her children up at an hermitage as she was forsaken by Rama due to her chastity begin under a cloud for some residents of Ayodhya. But the family reunion took place eventually when Luv and Kush unknowingly captured Lord Rama’s, Ashvamedha horse and gave battle to his army.

But now after the family reunion the question remained of Sita’s return to Ayodhya. When Rama asked her to return, she refuse; and prayed to her mother earth to take her back. In response to her prayer the mother earth, we are told, opened up and accepted her. As Sita disappeared into the earth, Rama rushed; to stop her but he could only clutch her hair which remained above the ground as the breach in the earth closed to engulf Sita. Thus, Sita who was born out of earth also returned to the earth for her eternal sleep. The corollary in the name Sita for Rama’s queen and also for a type of landholding illustrates the fact that the Sita type of holding must have been a very common type of holding in ancient India such that the word Sita was given to a mythological character who was supposed to have been a daughter of the earth. But this story also illustrates that the Sita type of holdings could have come into being as a new type of landholding which was evolved out of an earlier one (perhaps the Rashtra holding or some other holding). This was the possible reason why the daughter of the earth, who sprang from the earth was called Sita.

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