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Mata Sita – Lopamudra Discussion in Ananda-Ramayana on Building Bridge to Lanka

In the Ananda Ramayana, Lopamudra wife of Sage Agastya questions Lord Rama’s endeavor and effort on building bridge to Lanka. She tells Mata Sita that if Rama had asked Sage Agastya for help he would have drank all the waters in the ocean and prepared the way for the Vanara Sena to reach Lanka.

The conversation happened at Kurukshetra during a solar eclipse (surya grahan). Kurukshetra, now in Harayana, India, is famous for a holy pond and taking bath in it during Surya Grahan is believed to help in achieving Moksha (liberation). Millions of devotees take holy dip even today whenever there is a Surya Grahan.

At the time of a solar eclipse Bhagavan Sri Ram, along with Mata Sita, Lakshman, Hanuman and other relatives, mounted the Pushpaka vimana (aircraft) and went to Kurukshetra to bathe.

The demigods (Devas) followed them, together with the Gandharvas, the Kinnaras, and the Pannagas. Sages from several hermitages and thousands of kings came as well to pay their respects to the seventh avatar of Srihari Vishnu (Sri Ram).

There, while the sun was eclipsed, Bhagavan Sri Ram bathed along with Mata Sita, and donated many elephants, camels, horses and chariots to those gathered there.

Then the kings bearing many queens came to visit Janaki.

Mata Sita greeted the consorts of the kings and offered them honored seats alongside her friends and wives of the sages.

After accepting the hospitality offered by Mata Sita, Lopamudra (wife of Agastya), hoping to please Sita, began, ‘O Sita, with eyes dark as the Kanja birds, and with a gait like an elephant, you are so fortunate. Do tell us something about Rama’s valour.’

At this request, Janaki narrated the story from the time of her wedding up to the visit to Kurukshetra. Having heard the story, Lopamudra said to Janaki with a laugh, ‘O Sita, everything that the great-soul Archive did was proper.

There is only one occasion on which I think he exerted himself in vain. What was the purpose of undertaking the great effort of building the bridge?

Why did not Lord Ram take the help of pot-born sage, Agasti? Sage Agastya would have drunk the salt-ocean in just one moment and dried it up so that the monkeys would have been able to cross over easily. He made all those vanaras toil unnecessarily in the cause of building the bridge.’

On hearing this proud speech, Sita laughed aloud and said to Lopamudra, ‘O great pativrata, Lopamudra, Raghava acted quite properly when he built the great bridge. I will tell you the reason. 

Listen with a steady mind. May all the assembled wives of kings also listen to what I have to say.

If Raghava had dried up the ocean by shooting an arrow, then it was feared that many beings would have been killed.

Had Rama simply managed to fly across the ocean by air, then how would Ravana recognize Rama as human?

Had he sought to arrive on the other shore of Lanka by riding on the back of Hanuman, then they would have said, ‘Where is Rama’s greatness in that?’

If you suggest that he should have swum across the ocean, the doubt raised would be, ‘How can one cross the piss of a Brahmin?’

 If Rama were indeed to request your husband, the pot-born sage to drink up the salt-ocean in one mouthful, then this is what Rama would have considered in his heart: True, we have heard that this ocean was once drunk by the angry Agasti, and then released through his urine, which is why it has since become salty. It is entirely salty just like urine, so how can Agastya deserve to drink it now? Even if at my request, the sage should indeed drink it up, then it is I who would be the butt of ridicule everywhere. They would point to me and say, this is that Rama who for the sake of his own selfish ends, commanded a Brahmin to drink urine.’

It is because of this consideration that Rama, who is steadfast in dharma, did not request this of the sage. Thus has Rama conducted the bridge building with great thought, in order to advance his fame? No one has done anything like it before, nor will they do again. Now the entire world knows him and speaks of him as “The one who made the rocks float on the ocean’.

With these words of Sita, Lopamudra was vanquished. She became embarrassed and remained silent for a moment before the assembly of women. Then with a laugh, Vaidehi placated Lopamudra. She also worshipped the other wives of sages and appeased them over and over again.

I have offended you today, great pativrata, please pardon my offence. Thanks to the occasion, and because of your friendship, I have ventured to speak of Rama’s valour in front of you. I know very well that Rama owes his valour to your husbands’ blessings.’ Having propitiated them thus, she bid farewell to all the sages’ wives.”

 Ananda Ramayana Vilasa Kanda, Sarga 9, verses 1 - 30