The love of Rama and Sita is love; it is not marriage. If you have not read Valmiki’s Ramayana – the story of Rama – you must read it. Tulsi and many others have written versions of the Ramayana after Valmiki, but all those Ramayanas have lost the purity of Valmiki’s Ramayana. Valmiki’s version is pure because he is not concerned about morality or religion. Valmiki narrates the Ramayana in the spirit of Rama himself. Tulsi, however, is too preoccupied with preserving Rama’s image, so that whatever he feels to be detrimental to Rama’s moral character he has left out. Tulsi has removed from the Ramayana every detail, however small, that might tarnish Rama’s image. Tulsi is an idealist, Valmiki is a realist. You may find yourself troubled by many features of Valmiki’s narrative because so many of the events surrounding Rama and Sita will defy your imagination.
Rama comes to the city where Sita lives and, wandering in a garden, sees Sita and falls in love with her. This is inconceivable to us, this is the kind of thing that any vagrant boy might do – to set eyes on a girl and immediately fall in love with her. Is this any way for a Rama to behave? But so it was! Love happened to Rama before marriage. Marriage came afterwards just as a supplement to love. To Sita too, love happened the moment she saw this young man. Their two hearts met – the essential meeting had already happened – before they married, before society played the part of the formal witness. My understanding is that after what had happened between the two, if Sita had to marry someone else, that would have been merely a superficial marriage. The freshness, the virginity of the meeting of these two hearts would not have been there in any other marriage. It would have been only a business transaction, something just on the body level.
This is why, even if Ravana could have been able to marry Sita, he could not have had her; that event had already happened, her giving of herself had already happened. And likewise, had Rama married another woman, he would have missed the music of the meeting of two hearts; what was spontaneous and unplanned would not have been possible in any other marriage.
Rama and Sita have never been studied in this dimension, because love is something we do not study – we want to avoid such things. Their falling in love with each other is the very first thing between Rama and Sita, and all that unfolds afterwards between them has to be understood in this light. If we ignore the fact that first and foremost they have fallen in love with each other, then many apparently meaningless issues arise in the lives of Rama and Sita, and to resolve these becomes very difficult.
A scholar came to me, a devotee of Krishna and opponent of Rama. This is just the way scholars behave: if he is a devotee of Krishna he will be opposed to Rama, and if he is devoted to Rama he will oppose Krishna. The scholar is always for one party and against the other. They have no heart which can understand, otherwise they would see that Rama and Krishna are one.
This scholar said to me, “Everything in Rama’s life seems fine to me, except for his expulsion of Sita to the jungle on the basis of gossip spread by a worthless washerman. On the strength of hearsay and rumor, Rama sent his pregnant wife away from their home. This is a very unworthy act on Rama’s part – this shows that his love fell short. Rama may have been kingly and skillful in worldly matters, but he certainly is not a lover, because what kind of love is this?”
I don’t think the scholar was able to understand my answer when I told him, “To me, this is one of those rare acts of love. Only a lover could do this.” It was difficult for the scholar to catch my meaning.