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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: Story of Sita - Nabeena Srikanth

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Story of Sita by Nabeena Srikanth begins with the character of Sita of the mythical Ramayana. The purpose of this book is to investigate the figure of Sita, as the archetype of the Indian imagery. The book describes how Sita get banished from the kingdom because of an act that she did not commit.

The author sees in Sita an icon of female self-determination. She survives a society that would restrict her in her development. The story moves from the things that never happen but that have existed forever.

Mythology always has a religious content. Myths got used to define interpersonal behavior. Myths remained alive because they were always told. Already in antiquity, different varieties were circulating. The re-narrations originated in different places, from new experiences, and from other interests.

Some myths got recounted again and again to the present, so the myths got secularized. A myth is of such a quality of interpersonal conflict that it can get told without the cooperation of gods. The Ramayana is an epic that belongs to the sacred books of Hinduism. It was not transmitted by God, but by the tradition of man.

The Story of Ramayana


Rama, the prince of Ayodhya and his wife Sita were the ideal royal couple. Rama is brave, wise and obedient, and Sita is beautiful and generous.

After several episodes, Sita gets kidnapped by Ravana, the ruler of Lanka. With the help of Hanuman and Sugriva, Rama declared a war against Ravana in which he died and Sita returned. At the end of the period of expulsion, Rama returned to Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and his brother. Yet, the tragedy is not over.

Sita gets accused of committing adultery during her captivity. Rama doubts Sita's purity and rejects her. Then in scenes of overwhelming pain, Sita submits herself to the test of fire. She wants to give public testimony of the integrity of her purity. But Rama argues that her queen should not only be pure but should appear to be. So he sends her into exile (despite her innocence).

Sita gets banished by him because his kingdom is more important to him than her. She goes to the jungle and takes refuge in the hermitage of Valmiki. Here she gives birth to two twin sons, Lava and Kusha. They become disciples of Valmiki.

Later, Rama learns about Lava and Kusha. Rama's heart gets broken watching Sita in exile. But Sita is resolute as Rama rejected her in the neediest hour. But her heart gets broken once again. Lava and Kusha accuse her of denying them of their royal pleasures. They leave her and Sita lives with her memories like a wretched woman. These are, as in the old myth.

Review

Story of Sita is a walk through classical mythology in search of the essence of the feminine. Nabeena Srikanth also tells the story of Sita as a woman who is in desperate search of love. In this way, she gets caught between the morality of her husband and the society. Sita's tries to assert herself but fails.


In the myths, Sita appears sometimes beautiful and seductive and sometimes cold. And at other times, she is a faithful wife and loving mother. The core of femininity gets glimpsed in Sita. Like women at all times, she has to fight to reclaim the dignity of the feminine soul.

Through the Indian myths, Nabeena Srikanth takes us to the depths of the feminine soul. We discover Sita as a woman who must go beyond myths, starting from being a myth created by man. We see her courage, generosity and her particular way of understanding the world. We see the infinite nuances that make up the universe of an irreverent and passionate woman.

We can see an icon of equality in Sita. But she is not a figurehead for a new matriarchy. Sita is not the protector of women because she is not ready to adapt and play according to the rules of the man's game.

The author goes back to an ancient India where the ancestral female voices were still strong. In this volume, we discover the social concerns of the past. The darkest recesses of the emotional, social and personal sphere get shaken.

To tell the story, Nabeena Srikanth uses an artifice. She lets Sita speak from her perspective, describe her interests, and her intentions. It not only makes it clear why and how a scapegoat gets made. It also makes it clear how, by what interests, and by what means a myth get made.

The author leads us through the meanders of formation of the figure of the Sita. It assumes the scary and negative meaning we know well.

Story of Sita
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Kalyan is first a photographer and then an avid traveler based in India, who is always on the look out for unusual and off the track destinations. He is a freelance travel, food and lifestyle blogger and an influencer, sharing stories and experiences through photographs and words. More About Me »