Once again, in both cases of rejection, Rama plays the part of the righteous king who must always be above reproach. Anything or anyone connected with him must be equally so. Rama has to sacrifice his personal feelings for Sita in order to uphold dharma, as he had to do earlier when his father exiled him to the forest for 14 years. It is here that the epic trope of the hero’s personal destiny being inextricably linked with the plan of the gods is most clearly visible. But Rama as a human hero proves equal to the task. Even though he is not always aware of his divinity, he acts in accordance with a higher law, dharma, which is divinely sanctioned and is his duty, as a king (albeit in waiting), to uphold.
Arshia Sattar is a translator and writer. Her published works include translations of the Valmiki Ramayana and Sanskrit tales from the Kathasaritasagara, as well as a book of essays, Lost Loves: Exploring Rama’s Anguish
This essay first appeared in In Search for Sita (Penguin Books, 2009)