Sītā’s Shadow Vedāntic Symbolism in the Adhyātma-rāmāyaṇa

How to Cite

Michael S. Allen. (2022). Sītā’s Shadow Vedāntic Symbolism in the Adhyātma-rāmāyaṇa: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 20(1), 85–106. Retrieved from https://ivsjournal.com/index.php/jvs/article/view/228


Hers is a strange story, for it has neither plot nor characters. It is a spectacle with but a single actor, who amuses himself by playing all
the roles, pausing between acts to remind the audience that it is, after all, only a play they are watching. It is a drama enacted daily, but never fully understood: for in the last analysis it is beyond understanding. It is the story of Sītā’s shadow. Her story is told in the Sanskrit Adhyātma-rāmāyaṇa (ca. 15th century), itself a re-telling of Vālmīki’s well-known epic. The Adhyātma-rāmāyaṇa brings
together Advaita Vedāntic metaphysics and Rāma-bhakti (devotion to Rāma as the Supreme Being), presenting the life of Rāma from this “inner” or “spiritual” (adhyātma) point of view. The basic narrative follows Vālmīki closely: we have the incarnation of Viṣṇu as the four sons of Daśaratha, Rāma’s heroic youth, his marriage to Sītā, Kaikeyī’s scheming, the exile to the forest, Sītā’s abduction by the demon-king Rāvaṇa, the alliance with the monkeys, the assault on Laṅkā, the death of Rāvaṇa, the fire ordeal, the return to Ayodhyā, the second spurning of Sītā, her disappearance into the earth, and the ascent of Rāma to heaven.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.