After Sri Rama killed
Ravana in a great war to regain Seetha, he returned to the city of Ayodhya with Seetha and
Lakshmana. He was then crowned King of the Kosala country. Seethadevi was now the Queen.
They were happy. All his subjects were also very happy and joyful. After some years
Seethadevi became pregnant. Sri Rama was very pleased that his line would continue. He
said to her, "Seetha, you are now with child and you may have some desire or the
other. Tell me whatever it is, and I shall fulfil it."
Seetha smiled and said, "My lord, what other wish can I have? I only desire your
happiness and your love. Still there is a small thing I would like to mention. When we
were in the forest years ago, we used to go to the hermitages of the Rishis. But I could
not give anything to the wives of the sages at that time. Can I go there now, and offer
them gifts to my heart's content? I would like to spend some time with them." Sri
Rama gladly agreed to fulfil her desire.
After a few days, one morning Sri Rama was sitting in his chamber attending to his
kingly duties. Then a spy came to him. His work was to disguise himself at night and to
listen to what different persons said. In the morning he met the king and reported
everything. The previous night he had heard some persons criticizing Sri Rama. It was his
duty to tell the king whatever he had heard. He said to Rama, "Sire, the people of
Ayodhya are full of praise for you. But there are some who do not speak well of one action
of yours. 'Queen Seethadevi was a prisoner in Ravana's palace. Ravana was the King of
Rakshasas, and a wicked fellow. Therefore what of Seetha. Who was his prisoner? Sri Rama
was wrong in bringing her back.' I have heard some persons speak like this. "
Sri Rama was greatly pained to hear this. He knew that Seethadevi always thought only
of him, and was very pure. But a king should always so conduct himself as to please and
satisfy his subjects. That is the quality of a good king. Therefore Sri Rama decided to
give up Seetha. He sent for his brother Lakshmana and told him all that he had heard from
the spy. He asked Lakshmana to take away Seethadevi at once and leave her near Valmiki's
hermitage. Lakshmana was shocked at the order he received from his elder brother. He tried
to change the mind of Sri Rama but could not succeed. Lakshmana had no choice; he had to
take away his sister-in-law.
He brought a chariot to the gate of Seethadevi's palace. Seethadevi thought that Sri
Rama was fulfilling her desire to visit the ashramas of sages. She was all enthusiasm. She
got up a big package of haldi, kumkum, bangles and gold ornaments to be given to the wives
of the Rishis. She told everyone in the palace that she was going on a visit to
hermitages, and took leave. Sri Rama was not in the palace. So she requested Kausalya, her
mother-in-law, to inform Sri Rama. She then entered the chariot. Lakshmana himself drove
They sped along and soon reached the banks of the river Ganga. Nearby was the hermitage
of Valmiki Rishi. But Lakshmana did not go to the ashrama. He got down in the forest near
the ashrama. He helped Seethadevi to alight from the chariot. Then tearfully he said to
Seetha, "Mother, Sri Rama has asked me to leave you in the forest. Some people in
Ayodhya have spoken ill of you with doubts in their minds. They blame Sri Rama for having
brought you back from Ravana's prison. A king has to win the respect of his subjects.
Therefore Rama arms given you up. This has given him great pain, but he is bearing it
because he thinks of his duty. I have obeyed his instructions. I am a very great sinner,
to be leaving you in the forest. Kindly forgive me." He touched her feet. Then he
left the weeping Seethadevi in the forest and returned to Ayodhya.
Lakshmana's words were like a thunderbolt to Seethadevi. She stood for a long time
staring at Lakshmana who was going away. Deep sighs escaped from her lips. Unable to
stand, she collapsed on the ground. She recalled the entire story of her life. Should this
be the fate of a woman who always thought of her husband as her God? She wept and wept.
But yet she did not blame her husband. She thought it was her bad fate. She was soon to
become a mother and was wearied by the journey; she had eaten no food and her mind was
full of agony, so she crumpled up. She was overtaken by sleep and lay down under a tree.
Seethadevi awoke from her sleep by the evening. She did not know what to do and began
to cry loudly. Just then Valmikis disciples had come to the forest to gather flowers
and leaves for the master's worship. They heard the loud wails of Seethadevi and followed
in the wake of the sound.
They approached her and said to her, "Mother, who are you? Why are you crying
alone in the forest? We are disciples Of the sage Valmiki. Have no doubts. Guruji's
hermitage is quite near. Please come with us, Mother."
The very mention of Valmiki Rishi brought Seethadevi some comfort. She took courage and
went with the disciples to the ashrama.
As soon as she saw Valmiki, Seethadevi prostrated before the sage with great devotion.
Weeping, she narrated her whole story to the sage. Valmiki was deeply moved. He consoled
her in various ways. He then assured her that he would keep her in his hermitage. He asked
the women of the ashrama to look after her. He told them that she was a very virtuous lady
and they should look after her with all possible care and affection.
After a few days. Seethadevi gave birth to two sons. They were born on a good day under
very auspicious stars. The two babies were beautiful like dolls made of moonlight. Valmiki
rejoiced when he saw them. On the tenth day after their birth, he named them Lava and
Kusha. Every one in the ashrama was very fond of these babies. Someone or the other among
the inmates of the ashrama was always carrying the babies and fondling them. Their
affection for her children filled Seethadevi with joy. Seeing those pretty children, she
was able to forget her sorrows. And this brought Valmiki great relief.
Lava and Kusha grew up day by day like the waxing moon. Valmiki himself taught those
boys the first letters. He taught them to read and to write. The boys also learnt to
recite several songs of prayer. They had very sweet voices. When they sang, all around
listened spellbound. Valmiki would often make the children sing before Seethadevi; their
song delighted her like divine nectar (Amrita).
Lava and Kusha were now eight years old. Valmiki performed their 'sacred thread
ceremony" - the Upanayana. Then he began to teach them the sacred Vedas. He had by
now completed the Ramayana', which also he taught them. The two boys learnt it by heart.
They sang the 'Ramayana'
S o movingly that Valmiki was filled with joy. He made them sing his long poem before
Seethadevi. Her heart melted at the story of the 'Ramayana', at the singing and the
sweetness of the voices. Their recitation gave the story of 'Ramayana' a new beauty and
appeal. Seethas eyes were filled with tears of joy. Valmiki felt proud of the boys
and their singing. He would ask Lava and Kusha to sing the 'Ramayana' before everyone who
came to his ashrama.