The Ramayana is one of the oldest scriptures in the world. Written before the Mahabharata, its age is estimated by historians to be about 5000 BC. The story of the Ramayana is the story of the God Rama and his battle with the evil Ravana, the king of Sri Lanka. The book is written in verse and recounts myriad tales that culminate in a big battle between Rama and Ravana. The bone of contention was the beautiful wife of Rama. Her name was Sita and she was a woman of unsurpassed beauty. Ravana had heard of her beauty and he lusted for her. He took the form of a Brahmin and enticed Sita out of her abode and took her to Lanka.
Archaeologists have now concluded that Ravana probably took Sita to his palace in Central Lanka.
Is the Tale in the Ramayana a Myth?
Many scholars have studied the epic, but all have concluded that the events related in the Ramayana are probably true. The super powers and miracles recounted are in a way just an elucidation of the acts of Rama for a commoner to understand. They are not to be taken literally( Like Ravana having 10 heads), but a guide to the tale of Rama.
There is thus little doubt that Rama did exist and so did Sita. There is also not an iota of doubt that Ravana abducted Sita for his pleasure.
Sita in the captivity of Ravana
When Ravana abducted Sita, he took her to his palace in Central Lanka. The epic records that Ravana daily sent her gifts and flowers to win her love. Sita is supposed to have been kept in the custody of Ravana for more than a year. The epic relates that Sita spurned the advances and presents of Ravana and perhaps this may be true.
The Genesis of Ravana’s desire for Sita
There are many variations of the Ramayana. One tale recounts that Ravana had gone for the Swayamwara of Sita but had to leave as he learnt that his sister had been kidnapped. He left the swayamwara and went back only to find that his sister was fine. By the time he returned the swayamwara was over and Lord Rama had won Sita. Ravana always desired Sita since then.
Another tale recounts that the beauty of Sita reached Ravana and being a lusty man he desired to have Sita as a beloved and wife and made the elaborate ruse to abduct her. The fact is the Ravana abducted Sita and took her to his palace. This is not denied in the scriptures.
Ravana as a Man
Ravana was a man who had attained great spiritual power. He was a worshipper of Lord Shiva and it was said that he had the power to make the sun rise or set at his will. He was also the ruler of the 3 worlds and was a highly educated and erudite man.
Ravana had 3 wives and by all accounts he was a lusty man. It does seem inconceivable that given the desire of Ravana for Sita he just sat passively waiting for Sita to accept him. We should not forget that he was a great and powerful king and many women pandered to his taste.
How strong was Ravana’s Love for Sita
When Ravana abducted Sita , he wanted to make her his queen. But Sita was not willing and at the same time he was unwilling to let her go back to Rama. His lust for her was over powering. One cannot categorize Ravana desire for Sita as love, probably it was lust. But he was consumed with it and even when Rama had declared war he spurned advice from his brother to return Sita and stop the war.
Rama Did not Keep Sita as a Sister in His Palace
When Rama won the war and Ravana was killed, the Lord was aware of the true state of affairs. Hence he ordered a. ordeal by fire for Sita to prove her chastity. This appears to be a extrapolation in the epic to pander to popular notion that Sita was pure and Ravana had never entered her body. Keeping the nature of Ravana in mind and the fact that Sita was in his captivity, the chance that Ravana at some point may have forced himself on Sita looks a distinct possibility.
The Agnipariksha (ordeal by Fire) which Rama ordered for Sita to prove her chastity was a ruse to convince his followers that Sita was chaste and that Sita never had sex with Ravana.
Understandingly the Epic does not dwell on the relationship between Ravana and Sita. This is now in the realm of conjecture as nothing can be proved of an event that took place 5000 years back.