Why did Bhagwan Shri Ram ask Mata Sita, who was an incarnation of Mother Lakshmi, to go through the Agni Pariksha?
After killing Ravan, when Mata Janaki comes in front of Shri Ram, first of all Shri Ram instructs Lakshman ji to build a fire pit for Mata Sita’s Agni Pariksha. Although Shri Ram is incarnation of Shri Hari and Shri Hari is the maintainer of this world, when they come to this world as incarnations, they also follow the righteous conduct of this world, created by Them.
Lakshman ji was too disturbed with this order, but on the persuasion of Bhagwan, he prepared the fire.
Those who have not read Shri Ramayan or Shri Ramcharitmanas, they find this conduct to be nothing less than an injustice. But actually Shri Ram did not want Mata Sita to go through the approaching difficult times, so when Shri Ram killed Khar-Dushan after cutting off Shurpanakha’s nose and ears, He sends Mata Sita to the protection of Agni dev, the God of fire and Instead of Mother Sita, He kept a reflection of Her with Him. And after the war, since He could not let common people know about this arrangement, He had to get this Fire pit so that the reflection of Mata Sita can enter it and Mata Sita who was handed over to Agni Dev may come out of the fire.
Please take a look on these Shloks from the Aranya Kand of Shri Ramcharitmanas, explaining this –
लछिमन गए बनहिं जब लेन मूल फल कंद।
जनकसुता सन बोले बिहसि कृपा सुख बृंद॥
When Lakshmana had gone to the woods to gather roots, fruits and bulbs, Sri Rama, the very incarnation of compassion and joy, spoke with a smile to Janaka’s Daughter:
सुनहु प्रिया ब्रत रुचिर सुसीला। मैं कछु करबि ललित नरलीला॥
तुम्ह पावक महुँ करहु निवासा। जौ लगि करौं निसाचर नासा॥
“Listen, my darling, who have been staunch in the holy vow of fidelity to me and are so virtuous in conduct: I am going to act a lovely human part. Abide in fire until I have completed the destruction of the demons.”
जबहिं राम सब कहा बखानी। प्रभु पद धरि हियँ अनल समानी॥
निज प्रतिबिंब राखि तहँ सीता। तैसइ सील रूप सुबिनीता॥
No sooner had Sri Rama told Her everything in detail than She impressed the image of the Lord’s feet on Her heart and entered into the fire, leaving with Him only of a shadow of Hers, though precisely of the same appearance and the same amiable and gentle disposition.
लछिमनहूँ यह मरमु न जाना। जो कछु चरित रचा भगवाना॥
Lakshmana too did not know the secret of what the Lord had done behind the curtain.
After this, in Shri Ramcharitmanas’s Lankakand Lord Shri Ram brings Janaki mata out from the protection of Agni dev on the pretext of the Agni Pariksha.
देखि राम रुख लछिमन धाए। पावक प्रगटि काठ बहु लाए॥
पावक प्रबल देखि बैदेही। हृदयँ हरष नहिं भय कछु तेही॥
Reading Sri Rama’s tacit approval in His looks, however, Lakshmana ran and after kindling a fire brought plenty of firewood. Videha’s Daughter rejoiced at heart to perceive the blazing fire and did not flinch at all.
जौं मन बच क्रम मम उर माहीं। तजि रघुबीर आन गति नाहीं॥
तौ कृसानु सब कै गति जाना। मो कहुँ होउ श्रीखंड समाना॥
“If in thought, word and deed I have never set my heart on anyone other than the Hero of Raghu’s line, may this fire, which knows the working of all minds, become cool like sandal-paste to me.”
श्रीखंड सम पावक प्रबेस कियो सुमिरि प्रभु मैथिली।
जय कोसलेस महेस बंदित चरन रति अति निर्मली॥
प्रतिबिंब अरु लौकिक कलंक प्रचंड पावक महुँ जरे।
प्रभु चरित काहुँ न लखे नभ सुर सिद्ध मुनि देखहिं खरे॥
With Her thoughts fixed on the Lord, the Princess of Mithila entered the flames as though they were cool like sandal-paste, crying “Glory to the Lord of Kosala, whose feet are adored by the great Lord Shiva with the purest devotion!” Both Her shadow-form as well as the social stigma (occasioned by Her forced residence at Ravan’s) were consumed in the blazing fire; but no one could know the secret of the Lord’s doings. Even the gods, Siddhas and sages stood gazing in the air.
धरि रूप पावक पानि गहि श्री सत्य श्रुति जग बिदित जो।
जिमि छीरसागर इंदिरा रामहि समर्पी आनि सो॥
सो राम बाम बिभाग राजति रुचिर अति सोभा भली।
नव नील नीरज निकट मानहुँ कनक पंकज की कली॥
Fire assumed a bodily form and, taking by the hand the real Shri Sita, celebrated alike in the Vedas and the world, escorted and presented Her to Shri Ram even as the Ocean of milk presented Devi Indira (Lakshmi) to Bhagwan Vishnu. Standing on the left side of Shri Ram, She shone resplendent in Her exquisite beauty like the bud of a gold lily beside a fresh blue lotus.
I have many more blogs planned that will potentially help everyone understand the good learnings from Shri Ram’s life in simple language. I am hoping to publish them soon. Until then, if it interests you, you may read Ramcharitmanas in Hindi and English on the Mere Vishnu app. You may download the Android app from this link – https://t.ly/mvsn or scan the QR code in the following picture.