Story of Rama should end here. A happy ending.
But because of some inexplicable reasons this does not happen! The story continues to its most tragic end. As if the trials and tribulations – suffering of Sita was not enough, a new and queer situation develops. I am not inclined to proceed further, but as is customary, the story, whether tragic or comic, must be told in full. Therefore, reluctantly I will tell the remaining story in brief.
In this Rama Rajya, one voice of protest and dissent was gradually making itself heard. It spread from one ear to another, from one house to the next, from one province to the next. Initially it created a faint rumble, but gradually the faint murmur acquired the intensity of audible words.
And what was this all about?
One washerman and his wife doubted the purity of Sita because she had stayed as a prisoner of Ravana! In the Royal Court, they declared:
“O Noble king, as a perfect master you should always lead the most ideal life, above any reproach. There should not be darkness under the lamp! Our culture and tradition does not allow infidel woman to stay with her husband. She must be deserted/banished. Sita has stayed in the custody of Ravana as a prisoner. What proof she has to prove her innocence and purity! Who will believe her? It will be better if you leave her. It will be in conformity with the noble tradition of Raghu Dynasty, as well as a just gesture on your part as the king of Ayodhya.”
Rama and the whole court was stunned to listen to these inauspicious words of the washerman. But who can hold the tongue of the masses! Who can shut the mouth that speaketh thus! Rama tried to put an end to this useless allegation by informing the court and the assembly about the Fire Test that Sita has already gone through (passed) successfully. But this did not convince everyone. An occasional voice of protest was still heard in the court.
Then Rama offered that Sita would take another Fire Test to prove her innocence and purity. To this Sita herself took objection. She said,
“O my lord, there will always be some one who cannot be satisfied by any ‘test’ or any proof. Their convictions are hard-pressed in their psyche and no amount of genuine proof will convince them about the truth, for they do not want to get convinced. They are born to raise doubts about the Truth itself.
Today this washerman has stood to cast aspersions on my character, tomorrow some one else is sure to follow the suit. He would want fresh proof. Then should I continue to pass the test every day? O noble lord, I appeal to you to make your own judgment and act accordingly.”
Rama passed many sleepless nights. Sita was carrying his two sons in her womb. She was innocent, Rama knew and believed. But as a righteous king, as the caretaker of all, not only in matters of food and shelter, but also regarding their emotions and conventions he was accountable. Ultimately, Rama decided to desert Sita, the Purity personified!!!
Rama Deserts Sita
This difficult duty fell on the shoulders of Laxmana. Only ‘Sanyasin’ Laxmana would be able to control his emotions at the harsh moment of leaving Sita. A chariot was arranged one day which took Sita and Laxmana to far off forest Ashrama of Sage Valmiki. The Rishi was already briefed about Rama’s decision. The sage was pleased to receive Sita and promised every care for her health. Sita gave birth to two lovely sons: LAVA and KUSHA. [Later his two sons were accepted by Rama, and were handed over the reigns of Ayodhya.]
Sita now was tired of her difficult life. Insult, humiliation, distress did make her impact on her. And this daughter of Mother Earth prayed to Mother Earth to make room for her so that she could find peaceful rest for sometime in her life. The Earth separated into two and Sita buried herself under the protective cover of her Mother.
And Rama Too
Rama was distressed. His golden rule and prosperity of his people, his Rama-Rajya meant little to him now; the episode of Sita hovered constantly over his heart. The folly and compulsions of authority and social welfare became clear to him. One day, all alone he drowned himself in the holy waters of river Sarayu.