Vedavati
Possessor of the Vedas[1]
Vedavathi refuses Ravana.jpg
Vedavati thwarts the advances of Ravana
AffiliationSita
TextsVedas
Personal information
Parents

In Hindu mythology, Vedavati (Sanskrit: वेदवती) was the previous birth of the goddess Sita. She was an avatar of the goddess of prosperity, Lakshmi.[2]

Early life

Vedavati was the daughter of Brahmarishi Kushadhvaja, who was the son of Brihaspati, the guru of the devas, the gods. Having spent his life chanting and studying the sacred Vedas, he named his daughter Vedavati, or Embodiment of the Vedas,[3] born to him as the fruit of his bhakti and tapasya.

Dedication to Vishnu

Vedavati's father wanted his child to have the preserver god Vishnu as her husband. He thus rejected many powerful kings and celestial beings who sought his daughter's hand. Outraged by his rejection, King Sambhu murdered her parents in the middle of a moonless night.

Vedavati continued to live in the ashram of her parents, meditating night and day and performing a great tapasya to win Vishnu for her husband.

The Ramayana describes her as wearing the hide of a black antelope, her hair matted in a jata, like a rishi. She is inexpressibly beautiful, in the bloom of her youth, enhanced by her tapasya.

Immolation

Ravana, the king of Lanka and the asura race, found Vedavati sitting in meditation as a tapasvini and was captivated by her incredible beauty. He proposed his hand in marriage to her, and was rejected. Ravana, firmly rejected at every turn, grabbed her hair and tried assaulting her.[4] The furious Vedavati cursed Ravana that she would be born once more, and would be the cause of his death.[5] She subsequently leapt into the ritual havan that was present in her vicinity, immolating herself.[6] Vedavati would be born again as Sita, and as proclaimed, she was the triggering cause of Ravana and his relatives's death, though her husband Rama would be the agent.[7]

Rebirth

According to the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Vedavati encountered the goddess Parvati during the duration of her penance. Pleased by her devotion, the goddess offered Vedavati a boon of her choice. Vedavati desired Narayana as her husband in his every incarnation on earth, and sought the devotion of his lotus feet. Cognisant of Vedavati's true identity of Lakshmi, Parvati promised that she would have all that she sought, informing her that Narayana would assume the avatar of Rama to cleanse the earth of its evil during the Treta Yuga, and that she would be his consort.[8] Satisfied, Lakshmi reincarnated herself as a child upon a farm in the kingdom of Mithila, where she was discovered by the King Janaka. Stupified by the sight of the infant whose skin shone like molten gold, Janaka heard an akashvani, a celestial announcement from the heavens that the child would become the bride of Narayana. Overjoyed, Janaka raised her as his own daughter Janaki, better known as Sita.[9]

Another variant in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana,[10] the Devi Bhagavata Purana,[11] the Tamil text Sri Venkatachala Mahatyam[12] and the Malayalam Adhyatma Ramayana[13] associates Vedavati with Maya Sita, an illusionary duplicate of Sita. When Vedavati enters the fire to immolate herself, the fire-god Agni provides her refuge. When Sita is to be kidnapped by Ravana, Sita seeks shelter in the fire and exchanges places with Maya Sita, who is Vedavati in her previous birth. Ravana abducts Maya Sita, mistaking her to be Sita. After death of Ravana by Sita's husband Rama, Sita and Maya Sita switch places in the Agni Pariksha.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India, Volume VII: Uttarakāṇḍa. Princeton University Press. 11 September 2018. ISBN 9780691182926.
  2. ^ Dowson, John (2013-11-05). A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History and Literature. Routledge. p. 295. ISBN 978-1-136-39029-6.
  3. ^ Muir, J. (2013-08-21). Metrical Translations from Sanskrit Writers. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-38637-4.
  4. ^ The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India, Volume VI: Yuddhakāṇḍa. Princeton University Press. 2017-01-24. p. 907. ISBN 978-0-691-17398-6.
  5. ^ Gupta, Stuti (2020-11-10). Magical Mythology. Sristhi Publishers & Distributors. ISBN 978-81-947908-6-0.
  6. ^ Gupta, Stuti (2020-11-10). Magical Mythology. Sristhi Publishers & Distributors. ISBN 978-81-947908-6-0.
  7. ^ Vedavati, The Encyclopaedia for Epics of Ancient India
  8. ^ Yadava, Babu Ram (1974). A Critical Study of the Sources of Kalidasa. Bhavana Prakashan.
  9. ^ Books, Kausiki (2021-07-09). Brahma Vaivartha Purana: 5 Sri Krishna Janana Khanda Part 2: English Translation only without Slokas: English Translation only without Slokas. Kausiki Books.
  10. ^ Doniger (1999) p. 23
  11. ^ Mani p. 722
  12. ^ Doniger (1999) p. 16
  13. ^ Devdutt Pattanaik (2008). "10: Valmiki's inspiration". The Book of Ram. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-81-8475-332-5.

References

Further reading