Social Scientist. v 18, no. 200-01 (Jan-Feb 1990) p. 66.

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Sita in the TV Uttararamayana

The television version of Uttararamayana—with the main Ramayana going before it—did not aim at popularizing the epic story through the media for the overwhelming majority of the illiterate Indians. Unfortunately a large proportion of this section is eminently impressionable and the media version with its colour, movement, some realism and much magic and supernatural happenings would naturally grip the undivided attention of the masses. Hence if instead of making the epic themes popular, the television organizers decide on inculcating some message, the media offer a unique opportunity of going so. What irks the educated and progressive section of the people is that the aim is tendentious in a vicious way. Apart from a shameless use of, magic, and supernatural in the shape of curses and boons, a disproportionately large number of goods filling the stage unwarrantably for long durations controlling human affairs and reducing human heroes to second rate persons, often to semi-automations—apart from all this, the television frequently revives dead, vicious and decadent values. The Uttararamayana is a case in point.

In the television version of the Uttararamayana towards the last section of the Uttararamayana, Sita begs Rama to abandon her. Her reasons are clear: she is a queen in the glorious Iksvaku line, she is the wife of the famous, heroic and virtuous Rama. The subjects quite legitimately expect such a queen's position to be utterly unimpeachable. Yet not only had Ravana abducted her, but she stayed in the monster's palace for a year, and Ravana was notorious for his lasciviousness. She knows, and Rama, Laksmana and Vibhisana also know that she has passed her time in Lanka virtuously and that she passed the fire ordeal successfully; that gods did come down from heaven to vindicate her virtues. But the subjects in Ayodhya do not know this, hence for their satisfaction he should banish her. It is the duty of a faithful wife to guard the reputation of her husband, especially as subjects follow the conduct of the king and queen, (cf. The Gita: Whatever the best of men do, that the rest imitate). Staying now as Rama's wife in the palace, she will defile the line, tarnish Rama's reputation and the

Formerly Professor of Sanskrit, Jadavpur University, Calcutta.

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