While traditional Ramayanas have shown Sita to be the daughter of Janaka, who found her while he was tilling the land, there is an interesting and an unusual birth story that we find in Chandrabati’s Ramayana, written in Sita’s voice. Unlike other Ramayanas, Chandrabati’s epic even begins with the birth of Sita, as against majority that begin with the birth of Rama.

It is said that Ravana had become invincible after getting a boon from Lord Brahma. This invincibility also gave him lot of powers and freedom of spending time with divine women, often forcefully and otherwise. Ravan’s wife, Mandodari felt neglected and decided to end her life, by consuming poison. The poison is stored in jars inside a large vault in the palace, or so she presumes. But this is in reality the blood of sages who were tortured and killed by Ravan.

The poison converts into a child in her womb, and soon she delivers an egg. Astrologers predicted that the daughter born out of the egg would cause the destruction of both Ravana and the rakshasa clans. Ravana was outraged and wanted to destroy the egg immediately, but Mandodari was unable to do that and she handed the egg to a trusted minister and asked him to float it in the ocean.

The minister put it into a golden casket and set it afloat in the Bay of Bengal. This landed up in a fisherman’s net. The fisherman was called Madhab Jalia who took it home to his wife, who was believed to be extremely religious. She was named Sata and she received the egg with great ritualistic fervor. Goddess Lakshmi who was in the egg, in the form of the unborn Sita blessed her and the poor fisherman became rich. Meanwhile the goddess appeared in the dreams of the fisherman’s wife and asked her to deliver the egg to the wife of King Janaka.

Sata, the wife of the fisherman delivers the egg to the queen with only one request, that may the child born out of the egg, be named Sita, after her (a slight interplay of vowels). Soon Sita is born and bears the name of a poor fisherman’s wife. Unlike other versions, she was not found by King Janaka and nor does he seem to have any role to play.

Interestingly, Chandrabati spends a lot less time relating the birth of Lord Rama and his brothers! The entire epic has been written from the woman’s point of view and does not even focus on Rama and his heroic deeds. To quote Nabaneeta Deb Sen, “This narrative technique enables Chandrabati to subvert the patriarchal hegemony over the text. By shifting the limelight from Rama to Sita, events that were of central importance in the canonical versions, become marginalized here, thereby subverting the male code.”

Story by – Utkarsh Patel

Source – Chandrabati’s Ramayana

Location – Bengal