Earthen Melody

ఫిబ్రవరి 2016

King Janaka’s palace was filled with sounds of joyous music and dance, and with the fragrance of millions of flowers. The palace was resplendent, filled with indescribable joy and exuberance. It looked like a fully lighted ship, gently undulating on waves of happiness.

Why not? King Janaka’s dear daughter, Princess Sita just recently got married to that most handsome prince, the one who broke the great Siva’s bow, Prince Sri Ramachandra. Sita’s younger sisters married his younger brothers. They all returned to Ayodhya, Rama’s capital city, and the same scenes of joy and celebrations were repeated there. The royal chambers had been rejoicing amidst mutually shared joy.

It was approaching midnight, and all the hubbub had subsided. Except for the sound of gentle footsteps of those night maids who must remain awake to attend to the needs of the Queen’s chambers, no other sound could be heard. The silent nights bore witness to the young couples melting in each other’s gaze. Sita had gained sufficient confidence, just during these past couple of nights, to address Sri Rama directly and to make jest with him. Rama had shed the innocence of not knowing how to handle Sita’s beauty.

Though it was past midnight, they were not yet thinking of sleep. Continuous talk, jokes, sweet nothings, loud laughter (louder than necessary), unexpected frowns, pleadings, caresses – that large bed chamber was overflowing with exuberant young love.

Rama began to recount his exploits during his stay with Sage Visvamitra: How many demons he had killed, and how easily he had killed them; there was a tinge of boastfulness in his tone. However, Sita was in no mood to listen to battle stories just then. Gently she interjected – “My beloved, wasn’t there anything else memorable during your forest camp, except these gory fights?” She was playing with his jet black forelocks.

“I am already dark skinned, Sita. If you cover my face with my hair, I won’t be visible at all.”

He brushed her hand aside from his face. He seemed to recall something. “Ah yes, memorable. I saw this woman .. What a great beauty she was!” he blurted out.

Sita’s face fell. She didn’t like the tone of this. Rama saw another beauty before he saw me? What nonsense is this?

Sita’s disappointment did not escape Rama’s gaze. Rama had not yet attained the experience nor the cruelty to crush Sita’s spirit even for a joke. He told her what really happened.

“I felt like bowing to her. She’s a sage’s wife, by name Ahalya, it seems. Looking at her large eyes, it felt like I was gazing into the unfathomable depths of an ocean; an ocean that can hold blazing fire and freezing cold equally in its belly – I was shaken for a moment. I still can’t interpret the meaning of her enigmatic smile. Anger, compassion, passivity, philosophy, love, forgiveness – all mixed in it. The balance in her body was not just physical – it is a fine balance between the body and the spirit through rigorous discipline. I felt like bowing and touching her feet in reverence. If Sage Visvamitra hadn’t stopped me, I would have done that too. But he is great. He sensed the danger and hurried me further along the path, and told me the real story. I felt dejected. I felt very sad, learning that there was no character behind all that beauty. Yet, I couldn’t forget her. I couldn’t forget those eyes, nor that smile.”

Sita listened with curiosity.

Ahalya, a beautiful name, she thought. Means land untouched by the plough. I am born of the earth, while it was being ploughed (Sita means the furrow, made by a plough). And there is Ahalya, untouched by the plough! What does it mean, no character? May I ask him?
Sita was lost in thought. Rama noticed this and hugged her tight.

“While I am right next to you, your heart can not be elsewhere. I won’t tolerate it if your attention deviates from me even for a minute!” he said.

Though said lovingly, the command barely hidden in that speech stirred Sita up, and she blurted out what was on her mind.

“No, no, my heart was not elesehwere. I was only thinking of this Ahalya. When you say no character …”

“Sita, you’re still a young girl! You won’t understand. Moreover, you should not even be listening to such things, much less discuss them.”

Rama sealed Sita’s lips with his. Sita forgot everything in the resulting intoxication.


Sita did not have the chance even to think how her time would pass in Ayodhya. Rama’s love surrounded her all the time. The three mothers-in-law had been pampering her no end. There was no chance for her to spare a thought for her maternal home. Her sisters were also there with her. She didn’t have actually to do anything more strenuous than praise the creativity of the maids who decorated her hair differently and beautifully every day.

During this blissful time, once her mother-in-law, Queen Kousalya, sent for her. Sita attired herself appropriately, went to her mother-in-law, and saluted her respectfully.

The wives of some lords came to see Sita – that’s why the Queen had sent for her. They were quite captivated with Sita and praised her beauty to Queen Kousalya’s delight.

“Our Sita is born of the earth” Kousalya pronounced proudly.

“Oh yes, we heard. King Janaka’s great fortune. Surely, she surpasses even Ahalya in beauty!” one of the ladies exclaimed.

Sita was startled. Ahalya – the same Ahalya praised by Rama the other night .. do these ladies know her too?

The guests left. Kousalya called the maids and had them do rituals to ward off the evil eye from Sita.

“I can’t help showing you off to the guests. Then I can’t stop worrying if the evil eye is on you.” Kousalya smilingly explained.
“Mother, who is Ahalya?” Sita asked timidly.

“She is the wife of Sage Gauthama, my dear. Unusual beauty. And good character to match that beauty. Yet she was accursed.”

“Mother, what happened?”

“What else, dear? Aren’t all beautiful women seen as toys for men’s enjoyment? One fellow called Indra got enamored of her. While Gauthama was out of the hermitage, Indra came in the guise of Gauthama. She thought it was her husband. Indra’s desire was fulfilled. However, the real Gauthama returned just then and the secret was out. He renounced her. As Ahalya realized what happened, she was stunned. She became immobile, a rock! She is not in our world any more, no care for rain or shine, no home or shelter – she is in that forest. She’s not visible to anyone.”

Kousalya noticed Sita’s tears and stopped her narration abruptly .. she regretted telling so much.

“You’re a young girl. I was wrong to tell you all this. Everyone has to face their own fate. We can’t do anything. No one can alter it. Just forget her. Please forget that unfortunate one!”

Kousalya tried to divert Sita’s attention and led her towards the bird cage .. there was a parrot in there that spoke human tongue. The parrot spotted Sita and started chanting “Sita’s fate, Sita’s fortune, Sita’s fate, Sita’s fortune..” – then it let off a weird laughter.

Sita was scared and she ducked behind Kousalya. She asked timidly, “May I go to my chambers, please?”

Kousalya summoned the maids to see Sita safely to her chambers.

Sita’s heart was restless. She pondered over Ahalya constantly. Fear, pity and sorrow claimed her equally. She was angry at Rama – she did not understand how he could label Ahalya virtueless. Didn’t my mom-in-law tell me just now that Ahalya was virtuous? While Ahalya had no part in the deceipt that took place, how could she be labeled virtueless? Poor Ahalya! My mom-in-law said that was her misfortune, her sad fate. Why did that parrot chant like that? Sita’s fate, Sita’s fortune .. uhh .. my body shudders at that very memory. Oh heavens, this headache!!

The maids attended to her promptly, applying layers of soothing sandal paste. There was no use. It was past midnight, yet Rama did not come to the bed chamber. Sita slept with the headache.


After some time passed ..

They had to wade through the sea of sorrow in the King’s palace to pass through the city and reach the river banks. There, they bid farewell to the important wellwishers and climbed into the boat. Sita’s heart did not rest easy until then.

Past is past, she thought. As long as I am with Rama, what does it matter where we are? I’ve been raised in those luxurious royal apartments. Let me now enjoy the peace and natural beauty of these rivers, forests and hills. Now I can enjoy Rama’s attention completely, without having to sacrifice even a little bit for his princely duties.

It was Sita’s nature to enjoy whatever was around her. As they moved away from civilization, she did not feel at all that she was losing touch with the familiar – she actually felt more and more at home. When she shared her feelings with Rama, he smiled and said, “Of course, you are the daughter of the earth. All this is your own!”

Sita suddenly remembered Ahalya. She couldn’t really figure this out – whenever someone called her the daughter of the earth, the thought of Ahalya popped into her head. What was this connection? Their journey continued. Rama made camp at every hermitage along the way. He inquired after the welfare of the hermits and sages. Whenever someone complained about troubles from demons, Rama’s grip tightened on his bow. Sita sat with the sages’ wives and learned how to cook with forest produce.

On the whole, Sita was enjoying herself. At one place, both the brothers decided to halt for a couple of days. They wanted to gather information about the movement of demons around that area. After the morning rituals, the brothers went into the forest. Sita went to help their hostess, but the hostess declined her help. Sita learned from her that there was a nice little waterfall nearby and set out to visit it.

It was not too far. It was not at all a big fall, yet very beautiful. The water from the fall flowed away in a small stream – the water was clear and pure. There were multi colored pebbles on the stream bed. The sunlight played on them so that they shone like so many heaps of precious gems. Sita dangled her feet in the flowing water and sat gazing at the colored pebbles.

“Who are you, my dear?”

Sita was startled out of her world of colored pebbles by a soft yet strong voice behind her. She turned around to look at the woman who spoke – she was dumbfounded – the woman was radiant. Sita stood up and involuntarily bowed to her.

“My name is Sita. I am the wife of Sri Ramachandra.”

The strange woman draped her arm around Sita’s shoulder in a friendly fashion and smiled in acknowledgment.

Sita never realized there could be so much compassion in a simple smile.

“Who are you, amma?” she asked, with her gaze focused on the woman’s feet.

“I am known as Ahalya.”

Hearing it, Sita’s heart skipped a beat.

“Ahalya! So, you are Ahalya!!”

“Looks like you heard about me.” The woman laughed .. like a shower of paarijaatha flowers.

As Ahalya sat down, Sita too sat beside her.

“Yes, I heard. My mother-in-law Kousalya told me about you. What an injustice!”

“What injustice?”

“You were punished for no fault of your own.”

“Many many women face that situation all the time in this world, don’t you know, Sita?”

“But this was too much! You didn’t know that that man was not your husband, right?”

“Do you really know whether I knew or not? Does any one know?”

Sita opened her mouth to say something, and closed it. Her head was spinning. She recovered in a little while, and with great hesitation, asked ..

“So, you knew?”

“That question is meaningless, Sita!”

“But what is the truth? If there is a truth, that truth should have a meaning, no?”

Sita was overwhelmed with dismay, so many questions.

“Everyone has their own truth. Is there any one in this world empowered to determine the absoluteness of truth or untruth?”

Sita did not understand Ahalya’s question. Ahalya felt pity, seeing the confusion and innocence in Sita’s face.

“Yes, Sita, these are very difficult questions. Difficult to understand. I don’t know why someone told you my story, nor how they told it. Indra desired me. He thought, like all others, that a woman is a man’s play thing. He thought – for whatever reason – I won’t submit to him under ordinary circumstances, so he came under the blanket of darkness, wearing the disguise of my husband. Did I recognize him for what he was or not? This is the question that torments many many people in this world. However, this did not matter to my husband. He didn’t care if I knew or not. His property was temporarily in some other’s possession. It was soiled. Impure, pure, sacred, mundane, chaste, unchaste – Brahmin men defined all these terms so rigidly that there is no chance for discussion of truth or untruth here. No distinction.”

Ahalya stopped. Did Sita understand all this? She felt somehow drawn to this young woman, felt some odd kinship with her. She never spoke about that episode to anyone else, certainly not in this detail – why now to Sita? Why do I feel like she’s my younger sister, Ahalya mused.

Sita was still staring at Ahalya.

“Why did you come into these forests, Sita?”

Sita told her life story.

“You came to the forest because you couldn’t bear to be away from Rama?” Ahalya laughed.

Sita suddenly felt shy, but nodded assent. “Yes, I can’t bear to be away from him even for a day. He too is the same. He’s not like other men.”

“All men are the same, Sita. Especially, where their wives are concerned.”

“No. My husband is not like that. He will inquire what is truth and untruth.”

“Would he, now?” Ahalya’s tone was sarcastic.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean .. his inquiry .. what does it mean, Sita? Doesn’t it mean he has a suspicion? Is not some kind of a belief, good or bad, better than such suspicion?”

Sita’s mind was all mixed up. What does this lady mean, with her twisted logic? First she says there is no truth. Then she says no one knows it. She does not tell anything about herself.

“So, in the end, you refuse to tell me what is the truth in your own case – is that it?”

“Whatever explanation brings peace to your mind, you may believe it as the truth,” Ahalya laughed again.

Sita’s face flushed. This lady is not just teasing me – she’s downright insulting me, she thought. How much time had I wasted worrying over her? Perhaps Rama was right. May be she really was not virtuous.

“It is quite difficult to tolerate women who talk like me, Sita,” Ahalya said, as if answering Sita’s thoughts. “People are willing to tolerate me if I confessed that I had sinned. There is always a penance for each sin. If I argue that I did not sin, perhaps they may take pity on me, that I was victimized for no fault of my own. But, if I say .. what is it to you? What business do you have with my right or wrong? Who gave you the right to inquire into my conduct .. no one will tolerate.”

“So, doesn’t even the sage Gouthama, your husband, have that right?”

Sita simply could not fathom this Ahalya.

“The society gave him that right, perhaps – I certainly did not! Until I give it voluntarily, no one can claim authority over me.”
“But .. but .. he renounced you, didn’t he?”

“Poor man, he had lost me!”

“But, you too. Didn’t you live like a rock, without life, for many years?”

“That’s what you all think. But in reality, all those years, I had been thinking deeply about my place in this universe. I understood which values, which principles drive this world, and where their roots are. I acquired jnaana.”

“So, to deny the existence of truth and untruth – is that your knowledge?” Sita retorted with a hint of sarcasm.

“No, but truth is not absolute, it is always shifting, changing – this is the knowledge I have acquired.”

“You are wrong! There is absolute truth. My love for Rama and his for me – this is absolute truth that is never going to change. All the knowledge you acquired will wither away in its power.” Sita said passionately.

“If that is true, then I will understand that angle of knowledge also, Sita!”

Sita had no desire to continue this conversation. A vague restlessness possessed her – she wanted to be with Rama immediately.
Sita got up and bowed to Ahalya.

Ahalya kept her hand on Sita’s head, as if in benediction, said, “Never agree to an inquisition, Sita. Never subject yourself to another’s authority.”

Sita walked away hurriedly without looking back, as if unable to hear such words any more.

That night, as they exchanged sweet nothings preparing for bed, Sita quietly told Rama -
“I saw Ahalya today.”

Rama sat up with a start – “Where?”

“Why are you startled? I went to the local waterfall.”


“Yes. It is nearby. It is so beautiful.”

“Sita, please don’t go around in the forest alone.” Rama’s voice was worried.

“Okay, I won’t. Will you let me tell you about Ahalya or not?”

Rama didn’t say anything.

“True, just like you said, she is a very beautiful woman. She is filled with radiance that commands respect. Yet, there is no sense in the words she spoke. She talked vague stuff .. that there is no absolute truth in this world .. that truth is always changing .. I didn’t like it. It was irritating.”

Rama listened silently.

“Why don’t you say something?”

“What is there to say? Innocent and unspoiled ones like you do not understand the words of a woman like that. It is late, come, sleep, Sita.”

His words were an order. He slept. Sita wanted to tell him about her conversation with Ahalya word for word. But she realized that this was not to Rama’s liking.

She went on recounting Ahalya’s words throughout the night, and they kept irritating her .. she spent an uneasy night.

Then, for a long time, Sita had completely forgotten about Ahalya.


Sita’s heart was torn between extreme happiness and extreme anxiety on that day. The day she received the news that Ravana was slain in battle by Rama. Her joy was ebullient in the thought of her imminent release from Lanka. Her heart was beating wildly, at the thought of reunion with her beloved Rama. What would she do as soon as she saw him? What would Rama say? She would again be the queen of his glances, his touch, and his love! Happy tears streamed down her face. She saw Lakshmana approach from afar.

She was surprised at Lakshmana’s appearance. Wasn’t Ravana killed after all? If not, how could Lakshmana appear here? Then, why was there no sign of happiness in his face? He should be walking here with his head held high with the pride of the victor, not like a guilty felon with bowed head.

“How are you, Lakshmana?” she took the lead to greet him. He bent his head even lower.

“Sri Ramachandra – your elder brother – is he alright?” She had no doubt about Rama’s welfare, but looking at the downcast face of Lakshmana, that was all she could think of saying.

“He is well, my sister-in-law!”

“Then why are you like this, Lakshmana? Why is there no hint of joy in your face? Didn’t your brother send you to fetch me? Come, let us go.”

“I need to tell you something before we go.”

Sita felt like she’s losing her head. She could hear the wild sounds of celebrations being made by the monkey army even here in the ashoka orchard. Then, why was Lakshmana looking so crestfallen?

“Sri Ramachandra wishes that you prove your chastity.”

Sita twisted away so that Lakshmana could not look at her. As the import of his words sank into her mind, she had no strength left to stand and collapsed on the ground.

“Sri Ramachandra himself has no doubts, my lady. This act is just for the sake of the others. Only justice triumphs in an inquiry. Truth will come up the winner. The whole world will sing praises of your purity that has withstood this test. Sri Ramachandra instructed me to tell you this.”

Ahalya’s words rang out in Sita’s ears, from all those years ago.

‘What does it mean to conduct an inquiry, Sita? It is suspicion. Isn’t some kind of a belief better than this kind of suspicion? All men are the same, Sita!’

‘Did Ahalya have a premonition that my life would run like this? Rama, my own Rama wants a test of my chastity. Isn’t death better than this fate? Why doesn’t he just leave me in the hands of the demons? Why is he insulting me like this now? Was the huge battle all for this?’

‘No, the battle was for proving their valor, their manhood. Rama proved his courage by waging war. Now he is waiting for his wife to prove her chastity. Is this the same kind of suspicion Ahalya was talking about? Would it have been better if he believed I was pure and accepted me like that – or renounced me believing that I was spoiled, impure – even that would be better than this. What can I do now?’

Sita’s heart was a live volcano.

“My lady, please do not misunderstand my elder brother. This is just a precaution so that no one can say anything later on. You should be as pure as the sacrificial fire when you arrive in our Ayodhya. You can’t imagine how much turmoil he is going through right now for having to do this, but he really is helpless.”

As Lakshmana described Rama’s agony, Sita’s heart agony seemed to subside.

‘So, Rama has no doubts. He knows me, he knows everything. He is doing this for my own sake, and he is agonizing too. He is torturing himself on how I am going to take all this. He is trembling at the thought of the divide this may cause between us.’

Sita prepared herself even to console Rama.

‘Rama is so helpless, but in front of whom? Not in front of a foe like Ravana, but in front of the world, the citizens. The world is very particular about its codes of law and conduct.’

For some reason, Ahalya’s words intruded into Sita’s mind again.

‘Purity, impurity, fresh or spoiled, chaste or not .. Al these concepts have been so clearly and narrowly defined by the Brahimn men that ..’
‘That force is strong to defeat even Rama’s mighty bow. Even Brahma’s own weapon becomes powerless. I must go to Rama’s aid. I must shelter him from this world. I should wipe his tears away, and give him strength. No one else in this world can do this, except me.’
“No Ahalya, no! My Rama has no suspicions. He is not like other men. It is the truth. I may not be able to prove it to you. The world may not agree that this is the truth, but it is MY truth!”

Then, didn’t Ahalya say this too – ‘everyone has their own truth. Is there any power in this world that can determine the absoluteness of any truth?’

‘Oh Ahalya, why did you speak those words? I kind of understand now what you said then. But, is this right? Do I understand this correctly? Who can tell me?’

Sita clutched at her head, as if it was going to burst from the pressure inside.

‘All this can be sorted out later. First, I must go see Rama. I must face this bravely, whatever this test.’

She wiped her face with her upper cloth.

“Come Lakshmana, come let us go to your brother. I will face this test.”

When he heard these strong wilfull words from Sita, Lakshmana was startled and lifted his gaze.

It was like a whisper in his ear “Sita is the daughter of the earth!”


Sita could not get Ahalya out of her mind even after returning to Ayodhya. She was hesitant as she entered the ladies’ chambers .. could she bear it if any of her 3 mothers-in-law even mentions this chastity test?

As Queen Kousalya hugged Sita and shed copious tears amid exclamations of “Oh, my daughter-in-law is pure”, a certain steeliness, a toughness entered Sita. Did my mother-in-law first question whether I am pure or not, and then came to the conclusion that I am indeed pure, is that it? She had thought of Ahalya also the same way.

Ahalya had said, ‘whatever thought gives you solace, that is your truth.’

‘Did my mother-in-law also think so or did she actually believe in me?’

These are all questions without answers. Sita can’t ask anyone. Of course, no one will discuss such things with her. Rama too acts as if there is nothing wrong in their relationship. There was no change in his love. Same affection.

‘What is Ahalya thinking about me right now? Is she laughing to herself? She told me never to agree to an inquiry. But I did! If I say that that was for Rama’s sake, would Ahalya believe? Would she understand? She is enlightened. She certainly would understand.’
Sita wanted to meet Ahalya. This desire grew stronger by the day. Ahalya was the only one with whom she can discuss this matter to her heart’s content. If she doesn’t talk about it soon, her heart would harden and eventually become stone.

Even on the day they found out that Sita was pregnant, and the whole palace was celebrating, Sita continued to think of Ahalya.
“I heard that pregnant women have unusual wishes. And they must be fulfilled. Mother particularly instructed me to find out what your wishes are,” Rama said to her one day.

Sita almost blurted out her wish to meet and speak to Ahalya, but held back. Rama wouldn’t like it. He’d feel bad.

‘But this unfulfilled wish oppresses my heart and that pressure is not good for the child in my womb.’

“I wish to visit the various forest locations, dear Rama! All those wonderful hermitages, river banks, the beauty of the untamed forest that we visited earlier .. I wish to see them once more.”

“Oh sure. That’s not a big wish!”

Sita grew anxious .. why did she set out on this expedition? Talking with Ahalya would only further inflame her unrest. Was she deliberately stepping into the fire? No, no. She now had the composure brought on by her experience to handle Ahalya’s words. What an experience it was? She would find solace only upon listening to the deeply thoughtful words of Ahalya and then pondering over them. Only Ahalya had the power to soothe her.

Even if Rama accompanies her on this forest trip, she could meet Ahalya alone at some point.

Sita seemed to grow happier with this thought, in anticipation of meeting her dear friend again. Rama too was happy, noting this positive change in her. This forest trip was going to make everything fine. It would have been nice if Sita could have returned to Ayodhya directly from the exile in the forest, in stead of from Lanka. But that did not happen. There was the chance now. Happy with her trip to the forest, Sita would deliver a healthy boy, a worthy heir. Everything would be alright. Whatever thin veil was drawn between them would be blown away forever.

Rama slept like a carefree man that night.


When Sita found out that Rama was not to accompany her, she was relieved. Now, she could spend as much time with Ahalya as she wishes. She could cleanse her mind. Sita was quite happy as she climbed into the carriage. However, she was struck by the look of grief on Lakshmana’s face.

“Lakshmana? Are you not well? Then why don’t you let Satrughna drive the carriage?”

Lakshmana climbed into the driver seat without a word and whipped the horses.

Sita gave directions to the waterfall, but Lakshmana stopped the carriage before the forest became too dense.


The residents of the hermitage were providing tender care to Sita, who is 9 months pregnant, on the instructions of Sage Valmiki. Sita was like River Ganga solidified. Valmiki was lost in thought about labor pains and what he could do about them.

Finally, he inquired Sita herself. “If there is anything you want, my dear, please tell without any hesitation.”

“I wish to see Ahalya,” Sita replied calmly meeting Valmiki’s gaze.

Valmiki was nonplussed for a minute. He recovered quickly and replied,
“Yes, certainly. She certainly is capable of giving you solace. I will send word.”

Sita waited for two days with no other thought. Ahalya arrived.

“Are you well, my dear?” Ahalya sat close to Sita and held both her hands in her own.

Sita hid her face in Ahalya’s lap and sobbed inconsolably.

“Please, dear, calm yourself. It is not good for you to cry so much in this stage.” There was a thin wetness in Ahalya’s eyes.

Sita cried all her pain out. “Now my heart is light, my sister. It had frozen, nay turned into a rock, day by day, since the slaying of the demon Ravana. Today, with your friendly touch, it has melted. Now it is back to normal.”

For a while, they communicated just through silence.

“Now I understand your words about truth and untruth, my sister!” said Sita.

“There is no better path than own experience to attain knowledge (jnana), my dear!”

“I agreed to the inquiry only for Rama’s sake, not for myself.”

“Don’t I know that?”

“But now, again .. Will this haunt me forever?”

“Yes, it will haunt you, my dear, until you stop taking decisions for Rama’s sake and think for yourself. You are here now. You are suffering. You think to yourself that you are suffering for someone else’s sake. You think you perform these duties for someone else’s benefit. You surrendered your pride and self regard to others. What do you have left for yourself?”

“What is this thing called I, my sister? Who am I?”

Ahalya smiled. “My dear, the wisest men on this earth, the greatest sages are spending entire lifetimes in the hope of solving that riddle. You are you – no two ways about it. You are not only Sree Rama’s wife. You are something more, something beyond. Nobody teaches women how to find this self. The ego of men resides in wealth, valor, learning, and in good family name. Women’s is found in devotion to one’s husband and in bearing children. Nobody teaches a woman to seek beyond such ego. They do not realize that they are citizens of a much wider world. They limit themselves to one man, to one home and to one family’s pride. To overcome one’s ego is a spiritual goal for men. To women, it is ordained that they nurture their ego and burn in it eventually. Sita, try to discover who you are, and what is your purpose in life. It is not easy. But don’t give up. You will find out – you have that power in you. You were able to help even the mighty Sree Ramachandra .. can’t you help yourself? Don’t brood over the past. This is all for your good. All this is happening, in a way, so that you can discover yourself. Be happy. Observe this wilderness, and all the myriad life forms pervading it. See how the whole thing evolves. Study how it changes. These forests are home not only to sages and hermits, but many indigenous peoples. Meet them, understand their lives. You are an integral part of this whole thing. Not just for Rama.”

Ahalya’s words rang out like a melody from the earth. Sita was spellbound.

“You are going to experience motherhood soon. Enjoy that as well. Raise your children like a doe raises its fauns .. without any expectations.”

The maternal instinct, that she had kept down under pressure, bubbled over in Sita. Her hands tenderly caressed her swollen belly. Her eyes shone with love and light.

Ahalya left the following day. Sage Valmiki breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing the sparkle in Sita’s eyes. Sita hugged Ahalya at departure.

“Sita, do you want to know the truth in my case?” Ahalya whispered with a sly grin.

“No, my sister. It’s all the same – doesn’t mean anything.”

Sita gave a warm farewell to Ahalya.


Rama was grieving. He was so overcome with grief that he could not relish even his new found twin sons. He was pleading with Sita to return to Ayodhya. But Sita was not in grief. The glow of bliss that had been growing in her over the last twelve years did not diminish one bit. With a smile she rejected Rama’s entreaties.

“Will you be able to live away from your children, Sita?”

Rama thought Sita would be defeated by this most powerful salvo.

“Those children are not simply mine, Rama. They are symbols of the life pulsating in this whole creation. This I have learned .. discovered. They believe, you believe that they belong to you, to Ayodhya, to your dynasty. You proceed according to your beliefs.”
“But then, what will happen to you, Sita? Without husband and children ..”

“I am the daughter of the earth, Rama! I have found myself. This whole universe is mine. There is nothing that is not mine. I am the daughter of the earth.”

She spoke calmly, resolutely and with conviction. Rama turned back crestfallen.

Without Sita to help him, Rama experienced defeat for the first time.

Sita did not bow down to authority thrust on her from the outside. For the first time, she experienced the full power she has within her.


Telugu original: Mrunmaya Nadam by Volga
Translation: S. Narayanaswamy

**** (*) ****

7 Responses to Earthen Melody

    February 2, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    ఓల్గా కథలు నిజమైన వేదాంతం వాస్తవంతో కలిపి బోధిస్తాయి. అలాంటి కధలలో ‘ మృణ్మయ నాదం ‘ ఒకటి. ప్రస్తుత స్త్రీ వాద యుగములో నికృష్ట బ్రహ్మ ‘నికం ‘నీడలో అహల్య పాత్ర మార్గదర్శి. సీత లాంటి అమాయకులు తమ బుద్ది వికసిం చెం త వరకు అహల్య లాంటి వాళ్ళు తప్పని సరిగా దిక్సూచి లా వ్యావహ రించాలి .

  2. February 4, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I finished reading this story just now . The rendering is quite good .
    My sincere compliments to Narayanaswamy garu .

  3. Jennifer
    February 4, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Since I don’t know the character histories in great detail, some of it was a bit hard for me to follow (particularly over the jumps or ***), but it was still interesting and made me want to learn more ^^

    The transcription was good too; there were some tiny changes I would make personally just to “clean things up” (like changing ‘in stead’ to ‘instead’ or how in Ahalya’s last speech it says ‘Sree Ramachandra’ even though it has always been ‘Sri Ramachandra’ before), but all in all, it was a really nice read. Thanks for sharing!

  4. himani
    February 6, 2016 at 1:26 am

    beautifully written

  5. కె.కె. రామయ్య
    February 25, 2016 at 9:07 am

    ఓల్గా గారి ‘ మృణ్మయ నాదం ‘ కధ తెలుగు మాతృక కు న్యాయం చేసేలా సాగింది మీ ఆంగ్ల అనువాదం నారాయణ స్వామి గారు. ధన్యవాదాలు.

    2015 సంవత్సరానికి కేంద్ర సాహిత్య అకాడమీ అవార్డు పొందిన “విముక్త” కథా సంపుటి లోని మరికొన్ని కధలు మీరూ, త్రిపుర అభిమాని శ్రీ జి.ఆ.ర్.కె మూర్తి గారు ఇంగ్లీషులోకి అనువాదం చెయ్యాలని కోరుకుంటున్నాను. ( ఆంగ్ల అనువాదం చెయ్యబడ్డ విముక్త కధల పుస్తకం రానున్నదని ఓల్గా గారి నుండి విని సంతోషించాను ).

    “I am the daughter of the earth, Rama! I have found myself.
    This whole universe is mine. There is nothing that is not mine.
    I am the daughter of the earth.” వాక్యాలు పదే పదే చదువుకున్నాను, సీతమ్మతల్లి పట్ల ఓ ఆర్తితో కూడిన భావనతో.

  6. Vani dittakavi
    March 3, 2016 at 12:18 am

    ఒక స్త్రీ కి తన వ్యక్తిత్వాన్ని నిరుపించుకోవలసిన అవసరం లేదు. మన స్సాక్షి చాలు. అగ్ని ప్రవేసాలు , అరణ్యవాసాల అవసరం లేదు.

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