The Story of Ram, Sita, and Ravana in the Valmiki Ramayana

What is Valmiki Ramayana

The Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic poem that tells the story of Rama, a prince who is regarded as the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. The story follows Rama as he fights to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana with the help of the monkey-god Hanuman. The Ramayana is a major work of Hindu literature and is considered one of the two oldest and most important epics of India, along with the Mahabharata. The story of Rama has also been widely influential across South and Southeast Asia, and is an important part of Hindu tradition.

The Story of Ram, Sita, and Ravana in the Valmiki Ramayana

📖Valmiki Ramayana 3:46-18
Your teeth are evenly, smooth and their tips are like jasmine buds, and your whitish broad eyes are spotless, reddish at ends, and pupils are black.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 3:46:19-20
Your hips are beamy, thighs burly akin to elephant’s trunks, and these two breasts of yours that are ornamented with best jewellery are rotund, rubbing and bumping each other, and they are swinging up and up, their nipples are brawny and jutting out, and they are smoothish like palm-fruits, thus they are covetable for they are beautiful.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 3:45:17
And you are an entrustment, oh, best lady Vaidehi, as the great-souled Rama has entrusted you in my security, as such I do not dare to leave you off now.

  • In the passage, Ravana is discussing Sita’s beauty in his kingdom. The question, however, is how did Ravana come to know about Sita’s exact beauty? Had he seen Sita completely unclothed?
  1. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 3:46-18
  2. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 3:46:19-20
  3. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 3:45:17

📖Valmiki Ramayana 3:63-7
My noblewoman might be abducted by a demon, and on reaching the sky that lady who converses with a sweet voice might have wept a lot fearfully, and it is definite that she must have shouted a lot, untunefully.

  • Hindus worship Lord Rama as a deity, but it’s said that he was unaware of Ravana’s actions towards Sita. This raises questions about his ability to protect and care for others. However, in the text, both Ravana and Rama describe Sita’s beauty and Rama’s love for her. 👇

📖Valmiki Ramayana 3:63-8
Those two roundish bosoms of my ladylove which always deserved the application of pleasantly looking red-sandalwood’s paste might definitely be unshiny, as they might be bedaubed with muddy blood when they are extricated from her body for devouring.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 3:63-9
She has a sweet, softish, and very clear talkativeness on her lips. That visage with such lips is crowned with a hairdo with hair lumped together and plaited, such as her visage is, it must have become unshiny on her going into the repression of demon, as with an unshiny moon when repressed in the mouth of eclipsing planet Raahu, it is definite.

  • What was the reason for Ram discussing negative things about Sita’s appearance with Lakshman in Ramayana 3:63-68, where he mentions her two rounded breasts and expresses fear?
  1. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 3:63-8
  2. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 3:63-9

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:48-10
My temples, eyes, arms, feet, ankles and thights are homogenous and well-proportioned. My fingers have well-rounded and glossy nails, having a right lenght.

  • Why is Seetha talking about her body parts and why does the author need to mention all this?

Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:48-10

📖Valmiki Ramayan 5:15:28-29
Hanuma saw Seetha with a face like full moon, with beautiful eyebrows, with graceful rounded breasts, by the radiance making all directions without darkness, goddess like with black hair, with lips like bimba fruit, with a good waist, very firm, with eyes like lotus petals, like Rati the consort of god of love.

  • Why did Hanuman see Seetha in this manner, and what was the purpose of such a description?
  1. Reference Valmiki Ramayan 5:15:28-29

📖Valmiki Ramayana 3:69-14-17
Drawing nigh of those valorous brothers who are journeying on their way, that demoness actually clung onto Lakshmana who is going ahead of his elder brother, saying, “come… let’s romance, Closeting Soumitri in her embrace she told him this sentence, “I am Ayomukhi, by my name… you won me by your heroic personality, by that way, none can win me over… thus, you alone are my lover… oh, hero, oh, my husband… you will romance with me on mountaintops, in rivers, and on sandy isles, till the end of this life…” So is the love prattle of that demoness Ayomukhi, When said that way that enemy-suppressor Lakshmana became furious, and upraising his sword he sheared off her nose, one ear, and one of her breasts.

  • The passage describes a scene from the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, where Lakshmana, the younger brother of the protagonist Rama, is traveling with his brother and encounters a demoness named Ayomukhi. Ayomukhi approaches Lakshmana and tries to seduce him, claiming that she is enamored with his heroic personality and wants to be his lover. Lakshmana becomes angry and attacks Ayomukhi with his sword, cutting off her nose, ear, and breast.

Reference Valmiki Ramayana 3:69-14-17 

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:115-12
In the midst of monkeys and demons, Rama spoke (as follows) to Seetha, whose eyes resembled the petals of a lotus, who wore dark curly hair and was endowed with fine hips.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:115-17
You, with a suspicion arisen on your character, standing in front of me, are extremely disagreeable to me, even as a light to one, who is suffering from a poor eye-sight.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:115-24
Seeing you, who are endowed with a beautiful form and attractive to the sense, detained for long in his abode, Ravana could not have endured your separation.”

  • After Rama returned with Sita from Lanka after the war, he started doubting her character, wondering if she had engaged in intimate relations with Ravana during her captivity. Although many Hindus consider Rama to be a great man and a deity, this behavior raises the question of whether he deserves such titles. If Rama is a god, wouldn’t he have known what Ravana had done to Sita?
  1. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:115-12
  2. ReferenceValmiki Ramayana 6:115-17
  3. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:115-24

Seetha hears derogatory words

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-5
“O valiant Rama! Why are you speaking such harsh words, which are violent to hear for me, like a common man speaking to a common woman?

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-7
By the conduct of vulgar woman you distrust the entire race of women. Give up this doubt, if I have been actually tested (and found trustworthy) by you.

  • In this passages, Sita is responding to Rama’s harsh words upon rescuing her, where he expressed doubt about her purity and faithfulness during her captivity. Sita is questioning why Rama is using such harsh language towards her, likening it to the way a common man would speak to a common woman. She then asks Rama to give up his doubts and trust her, pointing out that his doubts about her are leading him to distrust all women. however, goes beyond the given passage and makes an extrapolation about how Hindu women should behave based on Sita’s actions.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-11
“O king! Hanuma, the great hero, was sent by you as your search-agent. Why I, who was still in Lanka, was not abandoned then itself?

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-13
This wasteful endeavour (in the form of crossing over to Lanka and waging war against the mighty Ravana, keeping your life in jeopardy), would not have been there, nor would have your friends been put to such fruitless hardship.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-2
Hearing the terrific words of her husband, which were never actually heard by her before, amidst a large gathering of people, Seetha stood bent low with shame.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-18-19
O Lakshmana! Create a pile of fire, for me, which is a remedy for this disaster. I no longer wish to survive, smitten as am with false blames, I will enter a fire, to obtain the only course appropriate for me, who has been abandoned amidst an assembly of men, by my husband who was not satisfied with my traits.

  • In this passages, Rama is expressing doubt about Sita’s purity and faithfulness during her captivity, which deeply hurts and shames her. Sita questions why Rama did not abandon her earlier when he had sent Hanuman to search for her, which could have prevented the current situation of war and hardship. Faced with Rama’s accusations and insults, Sita feels overwhelmed with shame and decides to end her life by jumping into the fire, as it seems to be the only appropriate course of action for a woman who has been abandoned by her husband in front of others and accused of false blames. The passage portrays the devastating effects of doubts and misunderstandings within a relationship and the harsh treatment of women based on such doubts.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:116–23
Thereupon, Seetha, after doing circumambulation to Rama, who was standing with his head bent low, proceeded towards the blazing fire.

  • In this passage, Sita, after doing a circumambulation to Rama, who is standing with his head bent low, proceeds towards the blazing fire. However, there is no mention in this passage of Rama intervening and asking Sita not to jump into the fire or stopping her from doing so.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:115-21
You were won by me with that end in view (viz. the retrieval of my lost honour). The honour has been restored by me. For me, there is no intense attachment in you. You may go wherever you like from here.

  • In this context, Ram is talking to Sita after rescuing her from Ravana’s captivity. Ram acknowledges that he has won back Sita solely to restore his honor and not out of any personal attachment towards her. He tells Sita that she is free to go wherever she desires as he has no claim on her anymore.

  1. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-11
  2. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-13
  3. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-2
  4. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:116-18-19
  5. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:116–23
  6. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:115-21

Emotional Reflections

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:115–19-20
Which noble man, born in an illustrious race, will take back a woman who lived in another’s abode, with an eager mind? While mentioning greatly about my lineage, how can I accept again, you who were harassed in Ravana’s lap (while being borne away by him) and who were seen (by him) with evil looks?”

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:115–18
O Seetha! That is why, I am permitting you now. Go wherever you like. All these ten directions are open to you, my dear lady! There is no work to be done to me, by you.

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:115–22-23
O gracious lady! Therefore, this has been spoken by me today, with a resolved mind. Set you mind on Lakshmana or Bharata, as per your ease, O Seetha! Otherwise, set your mind either on Shatrughna or on Sugreeva or on Vibhishana the demon; or according to your own comfort.

  • In this passage from the Valmiki Ramayana, Rama tells Sita that he has made a decision regarding their relationship. He speaks to Sita with determination, saying that she is free to choose to live with any of his brothers, including Lakshmana or Bharata, or even with demons such as Vibhishana, Sugreeva or anyone else she feels comfortable with. Rama implies that Sita has no connection to him anymore and that he is willing to let her go if she wishes to. Rama’s words show that he is trying to distance himself from Sita, perhaps because of the societal implications of her being held captive by Ravana, and his own doubts about her purity and loyalty. Sita’s response to this suggestion is not mentioned in this passage, but this moment marks a significant turning point in their relationship.
  1. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:115–19-20
  2. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:115–18
  3. Reference Valmiki Ramayana 6:115–22-23

📖Valmiki Ramayana 6:115–25
Hearing that unpalatable speech of her beloved husband, Seetha who used to hear pleasing words alone, was very much trembled for long, like a creeper attacked by the proboscis of an elephant and thereupon shed tears.

  • After reading the entire story, I have some questions: Why did Rama betray Sita? What actions did Ravana take against Sita for several years? And how did Ravana come to know of Sita’s beauty?

Reference : Valmiki Ramayana 6:115–25

What happened to Sita after Agnipariksha

After the agnipariksha, in which Sita proved her purity by undergoing a trial by fire, she was reunited with Rama and returned to Ayodhya, the kingdom where Rama ruled. However, despite Sita’s successful completion of the agnipariksha, Rama continued to doubt her fidelity and question her reputation. As a result, Rama ultimately decides to banish Sita from the kingdom, even though he deeply loves her. Sita is devastated by Rama’s decision, but she ultimately decides to leave the kingdom and go into exile. She travels to the forest, where she gives birth to Rama’s twin sons, Lava and Kusha. Sita raises the boys in the forest, teaching them the importance of righteousness and duty.

Additional Information 

Please note that all references in this article are taken from Hindu scriptures and have been thoroughly vetted. In the event that any URLs are incorrect in this article, the mentioned verses can be found in the Valmiki Ramayana.