Ramayana – Why did Sati test Lord Rama?
Indian Epics / January 16, 2017
The Ramayana, first written by Sage Valmiki, has withstood the test of time and proven itself one of the greatest epics ever written. The Ram Katha(story) appears as a series of dialogues – between Maharishi Yagyavalkya and Maharishi Bharadwaj, between Lord Shiv and Parvati, and finally between Kag Bhushundi and Garud. However, per the explanation of Swami Mukundananda, The Ramayana is in fact neither a dialogue nor a story. Stories are intended to have a finite ending, but the divine beauty of The Ramayana is such that neither the narrator nor the audience ever tires of hearing it.
The Ramayana story is itself regarded as another form of Lord Rama – replete with the sweet nectar of bhakti, or devotion to God. It is composed of seven parts or “Kanda” – Bala Kanda(childhood pastimes), Ayodhya Kanda(events leading to exile), Aranya Kanda(last year of exile during which Sita is kidnapped), Kishkindha Kanda(story of Vali), Sundara Kanda(Hanuman’s brave acts of devotion to Rama), Yuddha Kanda(victory against Ravana and return to Ayodhya with Sita), Uttara Kanda(final pastimes in later years).
At the beginning of the Ramcharitmanas, Goswami Tulsidas offers his respects to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He expresses how the story could be written only with the benevolence of their grace. This homage relates to a specific occurrence when Lord Shiva desired to hear The Ramayana from Rishi Agastya. Shiva and his consort Parvati – then incarnated as Sati – traveled to Rishi Agastya’s ashram. Rishi Agastya welcomed them with a pooja, a simple religious ceremony expressing due honor, and proceeded to relate the story of The Ramayana. As Lord Shiva drank the nectar of the story through his ears, Sati was inattentive. Later, while returning back from the ashram, they happened upon the same Lord Rama and his dutiful brother Lakshmana frantically searching the woods for the kidnapped Sita. Recognizing Lord Rama, Lord Shiva offered his respects from afar. Sati however, seeing Rama in such a grievous state of longing for Sita, began to doubt his divinity. What she does next offends Lord Shiva, and she pays the price of not trusting her husband’s words about Lord Rama.
Watch this beautiful clip from Swami Mukundananda, titled “Ramayana – Why did Sati test Lord Rama” warning us that not even the divine Goddess Sati is spared from the disastrous consequences of intellectual doubt on the path of devotion.