The intricate aspects of dharma in day-to-day life become explicit as the Ramayana unfolds. It is interesting to note that though Rama upholds dharma and truth, He is faulted on two occasions — the unfair manner in which He kills Vali and when He sends Sita to the forest. Arguments for and against the ethical issues in these acts have been raised and will continue to be raised by posterity. But in both cases the victims themselves are convinced of the rightness of Rama’s actions thereby nullifying any dilution in Rama’s virtue and purity, pointed out Sri Damodhara Dikshitar in a discourse.

In the case of Vali, Rama hides Himself behind the trees and kills him when Vali is engaged in a fight with Sugriva. Vali is astounded at being thus wounded when he least expected it. As his eyes search for the perpetrator of this ignoble deed, he sees Rama and Lakshmana approach him. He pours out his heart’s anguish on Rama, asking Him what harm he had done to Him; he accuses Rama of grievous sin by thus killing him under cover. Was it not an unfair and unworthy act from one who is a royal prince, he queries. After some exchanges when Rama tries to explain His stance, finally Vali tells Rama, “All is over. I shall blame you no more.” It is clearly indicated that both Vali and his wife Tara realise the truth of Rama’s identity and accept His treatment to them.

After the killing of Ravana, Rama refuses to accept Sita. She speaks up to defend herself and that she had been overpowered by Ravana when he abducted her. But seeing no alternative, she enters the fire and Agni gives her back to Rama untouched and intact. Rama then states that He had enacted this ordeal to satisfy the people and that He has no doubt about her irreproachable purity.

Later, Rama reacts to the scandalous gossip about Sita and abandons her in the forest in spite of her being pregnant. Shocked and distressed at the grim prospect of being alone and separated from Rama, she states that despite her flawless purity, if she is forced to this plight, it is due to her own faults in the past. She would not brook any disrepute to Rama.

More In: Faith | Friday Review