Valmiki Ramayana

Fire Test of Sita

Without wasting any more time, eager to meet Sita, Ram (with his company) reached Ashokvan. Sita had heard about the battle between Ram and Ravan, and was expectantly waiting for victorious Ram to reach her. Joyous end to her suffering and grief was in sight. The sorrow was to be replaced with the joy of reunion.

Ram arrived. Emaciated but cheerful, Sita touched the holy feet of her husband. The scene was too sublime; everyone watched with reverence, the flooding of Ram's feet with tears from Sita's eyes. Ram lifted Sita with tender love.

Then softly, Ram spoke, "O Sita, you are the embodiment of tolerance and forbearance. Moreover, you represent purity at its highest. But you have lived under the shelter of Ravan. I know the fire of your chastity has prevented Ravan from even touching your nail. But I have my own limitations. As a king, I am answerable to my people, and therefore, I would like you to prove your purity in front of all (publicly) so that in future people on this earth would not cast doubt - dare not put any blame - of infidelity on your noble character."

The Fire Test -- Agni Pariksha

Thus addressed, Sita responded by saying, "O my lord, how true you speak! Yes, by your grace, Ravan could not - dared not - come near me. I am as pure as Fire. Hence I will prove purity of my character by passing through the raging fire flames."
Soon a huge fire was ignited. The flames reached high up in the sky. Everyone retreated two steps backwards. Sita approached the Fire and prayed, "O Fire God - Agni Dev -, this humble daughter of yours prays to you. Protect her if she is pure. But if Sita has ever thought of any other man other than Ram -- in thought, word or deed, nay even in dream -- O Fire God, reduce me to ashes. Of what use is such a body to me that is corrupt!"

So saying Sita entered the raging flames. Everyone was tense except Ram, Laxman and Hanuman, for they knew the truth. Sita was Shakti of Ram, she cannot be impure. No fire would hurt her.

And true! Sita remained in fire unscathed and unharmed. The Fire God could do nothing in the face of purity of Sita. Soon the raging flames reduced themselves to ashes. Sita was standing there, her face shining with divine luster!
The whole scene changed to jubilant cry of 'Victory to Ram', 'Glory to Mother Sita',' Long live Sita'. Sita, since then, is ever worshipped as a Goddess of Purity, Grace, Tolerance and Suffering. Her name is taken before that of Ram; as Sitaram.

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