In Shrimad Ramayanam, Sita epitomizes deep suffering. She was brought up in Janaka’s household where philosophy flowed abundantly, and got married into Dasharatha’s place which was known for the ‘control on the senses’. Still, she suffered deeply and was about to commit the ultimate act of moving away from this world.
Having got married at a young age of six and lived in Ayodhya for the next twelve years, Sita chose to move out with Shri Rama when he had to leave for forests as per the directive of his father. The banishment act was applicable only to her husband but she chose to stay with him in the forest for the next fourteen years.
During the forest living period, they moved from place to place and lived in hermitages. As the period was coming to an end, she spotted the demon Maricha who was in ‘golden deer’ form, and wished to take it to Ayodhya as a gift to the waiting relatives there. The pursuit of such an unlikely deer resulted in her abduction and being in the captivity of Ravana for the next ten months. Reportedly one year was the abstain period granted by Ravana, and she was losing her patience as the period was coming to an end very fast.
During the Sundarakanda, Shri Hanuman visits Lanka and spots the mother Goddess, convinces her of the genuineness of his mission. When she got convinced of the authenticity of Hanuman, she asks him only one promise (‘pramanam Harisattama) that ‘dukha kshaya karobhava’ meaning ‘do remove my suffering pain’. To this, Hanuman affirmatively grants his word, and the rest is history as the eka shloki Ramayana says, ‘setu bandhanam and Ravana/Kumbhakarnadi nidhanam’, meaning the bridge was built and the demon brothers got killed.
In the tradition when the suffering is deep and appears beyond the human means to overcome the reliable resort is Hanuman worship. The seeker exhorts Hanuman and requests through the shloka from Sundarakanda which Sita herself requested. There is also a method of ‘samputeekarana’ with another shloka ‘aapadapa mahartaram..’. These two shlokas are recited in succession and the process is repeated till the result is obtained.
One of the sapta-chiranjeevis, Shri Hanuman listens and grants the ultimate removal of the ‘dukha’.
Prof S Ainavolu is a Mumbai-based teacher of tradition and management. He is with VPSM. Views are personal. www.ainavolu.in/blog