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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Maa Janaki – The Epitome of Womanhood

Maa Sita was the adopted daughter of Raja Janak, the king of Mithila (also called Videh), hence she is also termed as Janaki or Janak Nandini. According to Sanatan Dharma mythology, Raja Janak was ploughing the land during a Yagya ritual at present day Sitamarhi in Bihar, the border district of Nepal. He found a baby within a golden casket in the furrow of the field, whom the childless king accepted as the divine gift as his beloved daughter. Sri Ram was the Avtar of Bhagwan Vishnu and Maa Sita is regarded as the embodiment of his wife Devi Lakshmi. She is also called Bhumija as she appeared from the Bhumi i.e. the earth.

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By: Er. Prabhat Kishore

“Bhai Pragat Kumari Bhumi-Vidari Jan Hitkari Bhayahari.

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Atulit Chhabi Bhari Muni-Manhari Janak Dulari Sukumari.

Sundar Sinhasan Tehi Par Aasan Koti Hutasan Dyutikari.

Sir Chhatra Birajai Sakhi Sang Bhajai Nij-Nij Karaj Kardhari.

Sur Siddh Sujana Hanai Nishana Chadhe Bimana Samudai,

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Barsahin Bahuphula Mangal Moola Anukoola Siya Gun Gai.

Dampati Anurageu Prem Supageu Yah Sukh Layun Manlai,

Astuti Siya Keri Premlateri Barani Sucheri Sir Nai.”

– Goswami Tulsidas

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Janaki Navami or Sita Navami has great significance in Sanatan Dharma and Indian culture. Janak Nandini and spouse of Bhagwan Ram was born or revealed on the Navami Tithi of Shukla Paksha of Vaishakh month. This day falls exactly one month after Sri Ram Navami and is celebrated with great pomp and gaiety all over the Indian Sub-continent.

Maa Sita was the adopted daughter of Raja Janak, the king of Mithila (also called Videh), hence she is also termed as Janaki or Janak Nandini. According to Sanatan Dharma mythology, Raja Janak was ploughing the land during a Yagya ritual at present day Sitamarhi in Bihar, the border district of Nepal. He found a baby within a golden casket in the furrow of the field, whom the childless king accepted as the divine gift as his beloved daughter. Sri Ram was the Avtar of Bhagwan Vishnu and Maa Sita is regarded as the embodiment of his wife Devi Lakshmi. She is also called Bhumija as she appeared from the Bhumi i.e. the earth.

Prabhu Sri Ram and Maa Sita are considered as an ideal couple. Although several hurdles had come in their way, they were firm about their relationship. The character of Maa Sita is the epitome of an ideal woman in the human world and almost all families have the ambition for a daughter, a spouse, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, or a mother like Sita. She is known for her dedication, sincerity, courage, purity and self-sacrifice. She was a princess, but she accompanied her husband as a Pativrata Stree (devoted wife) during his exile. She loved Lakshman and Hanuman as her brother and son. She followed the traditions of helping the poor & Sant by providing Bhiksha to Ravan, who was disguised as Sadhu. She was intelligent and had the presence of mind to throw her jewels to the monkeys, which later helped Sri Ram-Sena to trace the abducted route. After her kidnapping, she warned Ravan for the debacle of his generation due to his misdeeds.

Sita was unhappy with her separation or informal divorce during her pregnancy, but she was courageous. She decided to give birth to children and equip them with all virtues. She lived as a single mother in the later part of her life. She didn’t consider herself a victim and did not go back to Ayodhya to demand equal rights. She understood Sri Ram’s internal struggle to choose the role between a king or a husband.

She performed her duty as the beloved daughter of Raja Janak’s family, the daughter-in-law of Raja Dashrath’s family, the spouse of Prabhu Ram, and lastly the mother of Maharaj Luv and Kush. When Luv and Kush were accepted by the Praja of Ayodhya and father Ram, her last role as mother was also completed and she returned to the womb of Dharati Mata (the earth) to seek solace from the cruel world, where purity needs proof from women.

On the auspicious day of Janaki Navami, the married women observe Upwas (a day-long fast) for the longevity and success of their husbands and worship Sri Ram and Maa Sita to seek their blessings. Along with deities of Ram, Sita and Lakshman, the plow representing Dharti Mata (Earth) is also worshipped with proper Puja-vidhi. Devotees chant the shlok of Rigveda (4.57.6) – “Arvachi Subhage Bhava Site Vandamahe Tva. Yatha Nah Subhagasasi Yathah Nah Sufalasasi.” (O Maa Site, come infront of us. We bow before you. O Goddess, enriched with supreme treasure and vibes, please show your kindness and generosity and be the harbinger of auspicious outcomes for us).

Maa Sita, her character and struggle life is part and parcel of the enriched culture of the Indian Sub-continent. It is believed that by performing the Puja rituals and Vrat on Janaki Navami bestows virtues like modesty, motherhood, sacrifice and dedication and blesses a joyful and prosperous married life. (The author is a technocrat and educationist who can be reached at prabhatkishore65@gmail.com)

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