There was range but depth was lacking. - Suganthy Krishnamachari
Of the Divine Couple Rama and Sita, it is Sita who suffers more during their separation, because Rama is surrounded by loved ones. But Sita is a prisoner in the land of Her abductor. However, even as a captive, She displays fortitude and forbearance. Sita is all that a woman would aspire to be. But Sita is an ideal to aspire for, and like all ideals, is beyond our grasp.
Kausalya Sivakumar's musical discourse on Maithili Mahatmyam - Greatness of Sita, at the Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, on December 19, was, therefore, an ambitious endeavour. She began by introducing the audience to 'Sitayana,' a work in the Maithili language. Sitayana has all the features of a Mahakavya, said Kausalya. Sita's agnipravesam is not mentioned in Sitayana, which brims with happiness.
Kausalya chose to explore Sita's personality as seen in other works too - Valmiki Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana, Adhyatma Ramayana, Kritivasa Ramayana and Ramcharit Manas. The references from these works are well known.
The few references from the Sitayana were the ones that were new. In one scene in Sitayana, Sita, Urmila, Mandavi and Srutakirti, who later marry Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugna respectively, talk about the kind of wives they will be. Sita swears never to part from Her husband.
Urmila says she will never go against her husband's wishes. Mandavi says she will pray for her husband's welfare.
Srutakirti says she will pray that her husband be granted emotional strength, even in difficult times. The future turn of events transforms their innocent childhood conversation into prophecy!
Sita's qualities of mercy, anger, ferocity when the need for it arises, patience, pride, her romantic interludes with Rama - were all touched upon by Kausalya. Unfortunately, the lecture lacked depth. Srinivasa Sastri's English is undoubtedly delightful, but reading out passages from his Ramayana lectures didn't do much for Kausalya's discourse.
Depth and range are equally important in a discourse. When one tries to do too much all at once, one ends up merely skimming the surface, which happened in Kausalya’s lecture. Chaitra Sairam's singing was good, and the choice of ragas was apt.