CHENNAI: No man can contend with the unavoidable sway of fate whose power is bound up with every individual’s past actions. This truth is reinforced in the Puranas and the Itihasas that retell the fortunes of many characters placed in varied contexts, and the Ramayana illustrates this explicitly, pointed out Sri N. Veezhinathan in a lecture. When Lord Rama faced banishment instead of the elaborately arranged coronation, the entire Ayodhya was not able to accept the unfairness of the situation, and the finger of blame pointed towards Kaikeyi.

Lord Rama tells Lakshmana that like all others Kaikeyi was overjoyed at the preparations; yet if she spoke cruel words that were unbecoming of her royal lineage and fine graces when she pronounced the exile sentence, it was fate that brought this transformation in Kaikeyi within a short span. Mantara and Kaikeyi had been mere instruments in the hands of fate.

The Lord further explains that destiny is insurmountable and none can hope to evade it. All that happens in one’s life — joy, pain, anger, fear, loss, gain, death, etc. — is the work of fate. All mortals, the austere, the mighty, the rich and the poor alike, etc., have to face its sting when its sudden blow falls unbidden. He advises Lakshmana that it is pointless to grieve over the cancellation of the coronation and the preparations for a hermit’s life have to begin in earnest.

Sita’s life is a more stunning display of this truth. She faces Lord Rama’s accusation of being soiled with the blot of shame and sin. When His fierce words that He had battled Ravana only in the cause of honour and not due to affection for her pierced her heart like a dart, Sita could only blame fate for all this.

When Lord Rama remained stern and unmerciful and none dared to plead on her behalf, she asked Lakshmana to build a pyre and decided to end her woes in the fire, praying to be vindicated from this unsubstantial charge. Fire restored Sita to Lord Rama, testifying to her unblemished purity.

Later, when Sita learned that Lord Rama, afraid of the ill reports of the people, had sent her away to the forest, she could only hold destiny responsible for her anguish and plight.