Symbolism of Sita desiring the golden deer!
by Jayasree Saranathan on 22 Oct 2020 1 Comment

Symbolism is in fact the message given by Scriptures and Ithihasas. It starts right from the Vedas. Rig Veda is full of connotations that can be deciphered only by enlightened minds. To an ordinary reader they would look like abstract thoughts sprung from mystic minds. But that they are not so is what all the later works starting from Upanishads to Ithihasas have established.


When the spiritual prowess of the people of Vedic age started declining, there came a transition from mythical imagination to abstract philosophy which found a place in the Upanishads. Learning from a teacher or guru kula vaasam was unheard of in Vedic period when the son learnt from the father (one instance to substantiate this is the Brahmopadesam that is originally done by father to son) who in turn transferred the knowledge to the next generation.


But the decline continued and the guru-sishya relationship also took a beating resulting in further dilution (or simplification of Thought) and Ithihasas filled the bill to import the knowledge of the Vedas. We find continuous re-orientation with reference to all mystic issues from Agni to Attainment of Brahman to Prapatti. Everywhere the symbolism is maintained or sought to be conveyed by means appropriate to the conditions of time.


For instance, the whole of Sundhara khandam is a symbolic representation of the Jiva’s plight in samsara and the qualities such as seshatwa etc that have to be observed by the Jiva, waiting for the Paramatman to give the lift.


This view – that the jiva is waiting and it is for Him to lift ‘whom He chooses’ - is to be found (back-travelling chronologically) in Vedartha sangraha and in Sri Bhashyam to the 1st sutra of the Bramha sutras, in Bhagavd Gita (10-10 ‘dadaami buddhi yogam’) and earlier in Mundaka upanishad.

(“whomever He chooses, by him alone He is reached.

To him this Self reveals his own form” (Munda III-2-3)


Another symbolism of Sudhara khanda is the role of Acharya (in Hanuman) in enabling the Jiva attain Him. If we substitute ourselves in Sita’s position (when we read Sundhara Khanda) and make all the pleas and prayers from our life’s point of view, we would realise how it would help in understanding the wonderful relationship that has to exist between Him and us.


The same feeling or import cannot be had when we read the respective passages from Vedas or Upanishads. It is because of the limits in the level of evolution of our minds. It is for people like us, Ithihasas have come in place. If we fail to understand the symbolism, they are said to have lost their purpose. That is how the need arose in later years to give us one line solutions like Thirumanthram, dwayam and charama slokam.


Coming to the symbolism of Ramayana, the incident around the golden deer alone has too many meanings. First of all why did Sita, who was prepared to shed all mundane wishes and ready to wear the mara vuri, desire the golden deer? Is it to convey (to us) that she is Sri, the Hiranmayi having a natural affinity to things golden?


Is it for this reason Rama immediately obliged her (as against the caution sounded by Lakshmana)? Since Sri is His manas, mind and Will, he could not say a single word against Her? Since the deer also was golden, did He as one having affinity to Sri, the Golden, not stop till He got it? Was it the reason Mareecha chose to look golden than anything else?


Taking the gold stuff further, is it because she is Hiranmayi, did Rama make an image of hers in gold and used it in his sacrificial karmas? I am saying this because commentators have expressed doubts whether shastras have approved of this.


Taking this further to Vedic and Upanishadic thought, is she, as golden and desirous of things golden, the personification of the glow at the heart of the Sun, the seat of Brahman as scriptures say?


Coming to mundane life, is the kundumani pon (gold) that even the poorest of the poor manage to tie in the mangalya sutra because of wishing for Her (the golden one with all auspiciousness and riches) presence in the coming of the bride? Is Sita herself a personification of womanhood, revealing in the episode under discussion, that whenever the Mind (of the woman) fails in rational thinking, the entire life (of the couple) is bound to be ruined?


Entire Ramayana is around what happened to Sita. So too the entire life of a person around what/how his wife behaves? Is that why the very first hymn in the marriage function runs thus: - “Oh, Girl, get up on the head of your husband!” The assembled people echo the sentiment in the words: - “You are the full blown monarch of this house.”


Thus any and every incident of the Ithihasa can be explained at three levels, physical, vital and mental (Bhoo, Bhuva and Sva). Every part / aspect of creation including the human body and the world around us is seen to be at three levels. Even genetically these three levels are inherited from three generations starting from parents to great grandparents and the return of obeisance to them is done to these three levels (vasu, rudra, adithya).


From the medical science also we have proof that diseases of the vital level (fluids etc) are passed on to grandchildren and not to one’s own children. The grandchildren inherit the faculties of the vital level from the second generation, i.e, grandparents.


In the above episode, the importance given to gold in mundane life is to be deemed as symbolism at physical level. Connecting gold (also manjal or turmeric which is equated to gold and Sri) to auspicious qualities of Lakshmi is the symbolism at vital level. Rama listening to Sita (as manas) and going after the deer is the symbolism at mental level.


Again Sita desiring the deer is a physical level phenomenon. Rama going after the deer is one dictated by vital level happenings (harmones?). And Sita ever glowing in Rama’s manas (Sun / Brahman) is a mental level phenomenon.


In short it is to convey ideas by different means, that scriptures and Ithihasas have come to stay. Those ideas are picked up by people in accordance with vasanas, experience etc. But to completely fail to see the symbolism in them beats the very purpose of their creation.  

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