The Mysteries of Sita's Three Sons in Ramayana

Sita’s Three Sons

The Ramayana has various interpretations, especially when it comes to the birth of Sita's sons. While the commonly known version suggests that Sita had twins, Luv and Kush, in some retellings, it is believed that she had only one child, Luv.

In the popular understanding of Ramayana, Sita gave birth to twins Luv and Kush who challenged their father and defeated him in battle and restored the dignity of Sita. However, in the many retellings of Ramayana found across the world, we learn Sita delivered only one child called Luv. She raised this child in the ashram of Valmiki. One day, when she went to gather fruits and berries from the forest, she left the child in the care of Valmiki. But when she returned, she found not one but two children. Valmiki explained that while she was away Luv had wandered off, and he could not find the child. In panic, he used his magical powers to create a new child. He gathered Kusha grass, fashioned out of it, a doll, breathed life into it and created a second child which was the very likeness of the first child. This is how the second twin was born.

This story is found across India in many folk retellings and makes one wonder why is it that storytellers felt the need to show that Sita’s twins were not born naturally but as a result of magic? Is it that twin children were considered auspicious and therefore you need an alternate explanation for the existence of two sons? Of course, we can only speculate on this.

In Sri Lanka, Sita does not have two sons but three sons. The story goes that Valmiki did produce the second child using Kusha grass and his magical powers, but Sita does not believe that he’s capable of doing so. To prove he takes a flower and fashions a child out of flowers and creates a third child. And thus, these three children defeat Ram in battle and become famous as a trio of gods, who are invoked and play a very important role in Sri Lankan folk rituals and traditions. Their dance is performed in Vishnu temples, Vishnu being a guardian of the Buddha in Sri Lankan lore. These three sons of Ram are also called the sons of Vishnu and invoked to protect kings and defend the land from ghosts and goblins.

In Sri Lankan lore, when Prince Vijay came from India, along with 600 people and colonised the land he fell in love in Sri Lanka with a Yakshini, a local forest spirit, one can say a tribal woman. However, he felt that he would not be recognized as kings by the kings of India unless he married into a royal family. And so, he abandoned the Yakshini and married the princess of Madurai, as a result of which he and his son suffered from various skin ailments. Vijay and son invoked the three sons of a Sita who cured them of illness. And since then, three sons of Sita are often ritually invoked in temple rituals to get rid of curses.

In Sri Lankan Ramayana there are many variations in the story. For example, Ram’s exile happens not because of any palace politics, but because of astrological reasons, the malevolent effect of the planet Saturn, which is why he goes into the forest in the form of an elephant for seven years, during which Sita is abducted. Ram, with the help of Hanuman and Lakshman, rescues her. But one day Ram finds that Sita has painted an image of Ravana on a banana leaf which is why he sends out of the palace into the forest, where he bears three sons who become the guardian spirits of Lanka.

Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist, author and communicator whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, religion, mythology, and management.




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