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Sita


Sita one of the five satis (chaste women), daughter of Janaka, king of Mithila, and wife of ramachandra. She was called Sita (furrow) because she sprang from a furrow made by King Janaka who was ploughing the ground in preparation for a sacrifice he was making in order to obtain progeny. Since Sita was not carried in a womb, she was called Ayonija (not born of a womb) and Dharaputri (daughter of the earth).

Sita married Rama and accompanied him to his exile in the forest. Her beauty attracted Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka, who carried her off to his island kingdom. When Rama came to know that Sita was in Lanka, he attacked Lanka, killed Ravana and his host of demons and recovered Sita.

Subsequently, however, questions arose about Sita's chastity and she had to pass through an ordeal by fire to prove her chastity. Sita emerged unscathed through the ordeal, but people continued to doubt her honour and Rama was forced to renounce her. Sita, who was far advanced in her pregnancy, was given shelter by the sage Valmiki, at whose hermitage she gave birth to the twins, Kusha and Lava. In Valmiki's ramayana, Rama ultimately takes her back. In another version of the story, Sita goes back to the earth from which she emerged.

Sita is an important character in the Ramayana, which is regarded as a holy book by Hindus who read it regularly. Hindus revere Sita as an ideal woman, a symbol of chastity and devotion to her husband. [S Ranganath]