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Goddess by Janine Shroff. This is more or less how I imagine Sita looked when she was asked to do the agnipariksha.

A man wants to divorce his wife. His wife doesn’t want to live with him. They appear in court. What do you suppose the judge does?

In a sensible world, you’d think the judge would grant the divorce, figure out an alimony arrangement and say the modern equivalent of pax vobiscum.

Not in India. While presiding over a divorce proceeding, Justices PB Majumdar and Anoop Mohta came to this conclusion: “A wife should be like goddess Sita who left everything and followed her husband Lord Ram to a forest and stayed there for 14 years.”

The honorable justices were clearly under the misconception that they were on Aastha channel, rather than in Bombay High Court.

I’ve tried to find an angle from which this is not idiotically ridiculous, and I have failed. The judges are trying to use a myth — as in, a story with makebelieve characters — as a reference for a real-life, flesh and blood marriage. Let’s say the judges belong to the faithful Hindu demographic, in which case Ram and Sita were married a very, very, very, VERY long time ago. Surely that should count for something. Or perhaps the judges feel that time doesn’t make any difference.

Though, if I were the woman, I’d put across the point that she cannot be Sita because:

1. She wasn’t found at the tip of a plough
2. Her father isn’t a king (presumably)
3. Her husband isn’t a prince
4. Her father in-law doesn’t have three wives
5. She doesn’t want to be kidnapped, start a war (which may not work out as in the Ramayana since the chimp-man relationship is not quite what it used to be back then. Refer judges to Planet of the Apes and Project Nim), be abandoned by her husband and ultimately driven to suicide.

Rather than setting the ball rolling for point 5 by agreeing to go to Port Blair with her husband, she would prefer to save everyone heartache and get divorced instead.

Also, if you want to be blasphemous about it, then Sita may not be quite what one would describe as the ideal wife conventionally. Really, it’s all a matter of interpretation.

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10 thoughts on “Wife = Sita?

    • Well, she wasn’t technically a goddess. Precisely what she may have been is shrouded in mystery. But turning Ram into a eunuch… well, she did leave his virility in some serious doubt.

  1. that was the actual court conclusion??

    :-/

    sigh.

    i guess it might be interesting to look into the judge’s marital life … :-p

  2. TRP, no Sita isn’t a reincarnation of Parvati. She’s sort of unique because her origins are mysterious but she’s assumed to be an incarnation of Lakshmi, since she was Ram’s wife and Ram is an avatar of Vishnu. She left his virility in doubt by virtue of the fact that they’re married for more than 14 years and no kids. But a few months with Ravan, and bingo! She’s pregnant. Interestingly, she shows up again at the end (post abandonment) when Ram is doing the ashwamedh yagna. Virility was clearly an important feature of that rite, given it involved a stallion and the queen ‘lying’ with the stallion. Sita refuses and then there’s the whole going underground thing.

    So yes, Sita doesn’t quite cheerlead for Ram’s virility.

    Mackie, I really don’t want to imagine any of those judges’ marital life but yes, that was the actual verdict. This country needs no The Onion.

    • Well i like to hope she didn’t do the dirty with Ravan. Frankly his moustache turned me off.
      Going underground was I thought a punishment for abandoning her? At least this is what I learned from Amar Chitra Katha

      • No, definitely not a punishment. She rejects him and says she’s had enough of life in general and goes under. It’s more suicide than punishment, if anything.

        Ravan, incidentally, had the reputation of being a hottie. So maybe she liked moustaches. Or the moustache was a late addition when it was decided he was the out-and-out bad guy.

      • If he was so hot he hardly needed to kidnap some chick and then threaten to rape her. But maybe she did like moustaches which are another sign of virility.

        The whole story annoys me. She just keeps playing the victim the whole time. Even the suicide thing. Instead of making his life hell she just conveniently gets gone. She is the most annoying goddess ever.

  3. i think the word you were looking for is “lothario”, Anon. “Hottie” as a descriptor could imply many things which Ravan may or may not have been. This has obviously confused Tin Roof Press.

    And didn’t your story’s unpredictable comic twist involve Valmiki siring Lav and Kush?

    I think Sita was the Eve figure that all cultures sooner or later create with their handy dandy patriarchy generator. In my reading she has fluctuating agency, so I don’t see her either as a helpless come hither victim or a badass grrl.

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