The Shadow Sita

How to Cite

Wendy Doniger. (2022). The Shadow Sita: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 20(1), 107–126. Retrieved from


In the earliest recorded version of the Sanskrit Ramayana attributed to Valmiki, this episode occurs: When Rama finally killed Ravana and brought Sita back home with him, he said he feared that his people worried that her reputation, if not her chastity, had been sullied by her long sojourn in the house of another man. He told Sita that he went to war against Ravana, “not for your sake, but
to protect my own reputation and expunge the scandal against my own family, not out of any attachment to you but for my own fame.”3 Rama forced Sita to undergo an ordeal by fire: she swore that she had always been faithful to Rama, called on the fire to protect her, and entered the blazing flame; but the god of fire placed her in Rama’s lap, assuring him that Sita had always been pure in thought as well as deed. Rama reinstated her, but when he doubted her again she disappeared forever back into the earth from which she had been born.

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