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Sita (Sinta), wife of Rama, approx. 1980

Sita (Sinta), wife of Rama, approx. 1980

Sita (Sinta), wife of Rama, approx. 1980. Indonesia; West Java. Wood, cloth, and mixed media. From the Mimi and John Herbert Collection, F2000.86.148.

Sita (Sinta), wife of Rama, approx. 1980

Sita (Sinta), wife of Rama, approx. 1980. Indonesia; West Java. Wood, cloth, and mixed media. From the Mimi and John Herbert Collection, F2000.86.148.

Sita (Sinta), wife of Rama, approx. 1980
Sita (Sinta), wife of Rama, approx. 1980

The virtuous prince Rama and beautiful princess Sita (Sinta) are the hero and heroine of the Ramayana, a great Hindu epic. Their bond of love, faithfulness, and dedication to sacred duty (dharma) are demonstrated in the events that unfold throughout the story.

Born by divine means to Dasharatha (Dasarata) and Kausalya, the king and queen of Ayodhya (Ayodya), Rama is the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu in human form. He is born at the urging of the gods in hopes that as this form of Vishnu he will be able to kill the ten-headed demon king Ravana (Rawana). Ravana, on account of a boon granted by the god Brahma, cannot be killed by a god or any other divine being. Thus protected, Ravana has begun destroying the heavens.

Born of the earth, Sita appears to King Janaka of Mithila as he is ploughing his field. The king raises Sita as his daughter. The princess is thought to be a reincarnation of the goddess Lakshmi born to accompany Rama in his pursuit of Ravana.

The famous meeting of Sita and Rama takes place at the kingdom of Mithila when King Janaka holds an archery contest to decide who will have his daughter’s hand in marriage. Her suitors are challenged to bend a magical bow once belonging to the god Shiva. It was claimed that no god or man could bend it. When it is Rama’s turn, he bends it with such force that it snaps; thereby, he wins Sita as his wife.

The couple’s adventures begin when Rama is banished for fourteen years by command of the second queen of Ayodhya. The lovely Sita faithfully goes into exile with her noble husband. In the forest Sita is captured by the tenheaded demon Ravana, who takes her to his kingdom, Lanka (Alengka). Rama enlists an army of monkeys to find her, but once she has been rescued, Rama begins to doubt that she remained faithful to him during her capture.

Willing to die rather than be thought of as unfaithful to her husband, Sita ascends a funeral pyre. The fire god protects Sita from the flames, however, thus proving her innocence.

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