What happened to Shupnakha

This is about three women from the epic Ramayan –

  1. Sita who has to walk through fire to prove her purity. Yet, she is banished to the forest a few years later with her sons, for an aspersion cast on her character by a washerman. Valmiki’s Ramayan is written during her anonymous stay in the forest. In the end, King Ram performs a ritual (Ashwamedh Yagya) to establish his might. The neighboring kings and warriors are dared to stop his horses, if they wish to challenge his supremacy. His sons are the two warriors who take the challenge, not knowing the bond between them. They have grown up in a sage’s (Valmiki’s) ashram in the forest.

2. Shupnakha, sister of Ravana, whose face was mutilated by Ram’s brother Laxman, when she proposed to him. This incident becomes the cause of the war between Ram and Ravan. Ravan, King of Srilanka, kidnaps Sita to avenge his sister’s humiliation. The kidnapping is successful, because Sita dares to cross the forbidden Line of Fire drawn by her brother-in-law for her protection. She does it to give alms to a beggar (who turns out to be Ravan in disguise). Ram invades his kingdom to get back his wife.

3. Urmila, Laxman’s wife, is deserted for 14 years, because her husband chooses to go to the forest with his brother without her consent.

What happened to Shupnakha
on that fateful day or night?
In what agony did she return,
that raised her brother’s ire
on her mutilated plight?
She was bold enough to propose
but was that misconstrued
by the conservative elite?
Boys will play games, he said
disfigured her that fateful night.
Ravan’s conceit
was a punishable offence.
How could aggravation
caused by Laxman’s temper
be justified as right?
Crossing the Laxman Rekha
was a feminist statement.
Urmila, Shupnakha and Sita all protested.
but, the Patriarchal Brotherhood
crushed them with its might.
An ethereal version of Sita
walked through fire
and the glowering embers revealed
the hollowness of Ram,
while his ‘godliness’ took flight.
Their sons were raised
to know the real story.
They stopped the royal horses
to reveal their mother’s glory
and challenge the father’s might.
The sacred fire of Ashwamedh Yagya
demanded proof of his superiority.
The Princes of Ayodhya, sons of God
questioned his humanity
claimed their mother’s Right.

Image source: Wikipedia


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