The 15th century Ananda Ramayana presents a conversation between Sita and Lopamudra the wife of rshi Agashtya this gives an insight into the mind of Sita, and her dignity and composure under pressure.

In the debate that takes place in the ninth sarga of the 4th Kanda of the vilasa Kanda Lopamudra wonders if building the bridge was right and Sita defends her husband’s actions.

While propriety of speech maintained Lopamudra subtly challenges Sita, who tactfully turns it to her advantage. Despite the fact the fact that Sita wins the debate she bestows courtesy due to the older woman

The dialogue or samvada presents a battle of wits between the two women, with propriety and dignity being maintained. This episode spans 30 verses.

What started off as a playful conversation turns into a debate. Lopamudra  request Janaki to extol the valor of the Prince. Sita narrates the story from her wedding to the visit to Kurukshetra. Having heard the story Lopamudra comments,

“O Sita, everything that the
great-soul Archive did was proper3. There is only one occasion on
which I think he exerted himself in vain. What was the purpose of
undertaking the great effort of building the bridge? Why didn’t
Raghava turn to the pot-born sage, Agasthya? Agasthya would have drunk
the salt-ocean in just one moment and dried it up so that the
monkeys would have been able to cross over easily. He made all those
vanaras toil unnecessarily in the cause of building the bridge.’

To which Sita replied,”Oh! Great pativrata, Raghava was right when he built the bridge, listen to me patiently I shall tell you why.”

The wives of the visiting kings heard Janaki too,” if Raghava had dried up the ocean by shooting an arrow then it was feared that many beings would have been killed. Had Rama simply managed to fly across the ocean by air,
then how would Ravana recognize Rama as human? Had he sought to
arrive on the other shore of Lanka by riding on the back of Hanuman,
then they would have said, ‘Where is Rama’s greatness in that?’ If
you suggest that he should have swum across the ocean, the doubt
raised would be, `How cans one cross the piss of a Brahmin?’ If Rama
were indeed to request your husband, the pot-born sage to drink up
the salt-ocean in one mouthful, then this is what Rama would have
considered in his heart: ‘True, we have heard that this ocean was
once drunk by the angry Agasthya, and then released through his urine,
which is why it has since become salty. It is entirely salty just
like urine, so how can Agashtya deserve to drink it now? Even if at
my request, the sage should indeed drink it up, then it is I who
would be the butt of ridicule everywhere. They would point to me and
say; this is that Rama who for the sake of his own selfish ends
commanded a Brahmin to drink urine.’ It is because of this
consideration that Rama, who is steadfast in dharma, did not request
this of the sage. Thus has Rama conducted the bridge-building with
great thought, in order to advance his fame? No one has done
anything like it before, nor will they do again. Now the entire
world knows him and speaks of him as `The one who made the rocks
float on the ocean’.

Sita’s words embarrassed Lopamudra Sita, turns diplomatic

“Great Pativrata, please pardon me if I have offended you, thanks to your friendship I could speak of Rama’s valor, which is due to the blessings of your husband.”
Interestingly this conversation does not occur in earlier Ramayana’s/

  • This battle of wits takes place at Kurukshetra which gains importance during the later Mahabharata era.
  • Sita had to defend her husband without, offending the Rshi’s wife which must have been difficult.
  • What I found interesting is that Sita does not outright address Lopamudra, she weights the other alternates and then presents why the option Rama chose was the best.
  • Agastya’s relationship with Rama was not just the one of a guest-host or Brahmin-King, Agashtya was the person who showed Rama how to overcome Ravana, and he was the one who initiated the aditya hridyam.
  • Agashtya himself went south, pushed down the meru, and drank up the ocean before Rama ventured south.

 

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