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Sita's Trial by Fire

Sita had been confined to the Ashoka grove for the entire time that the battle had been raging. She had lived through those days with her heart in her mouth, worrying about Ram and Laxman. After Ravan had been vanquished, Ram sent Hanuman to Sita to convey the good news. 

Sita's reunion with Ram was not at all as she expected. His demeanour was cold as he greeted her from a distance. Ram then told Sita that now that Ravan had been salin, she was free to choose her path in life. He told her that she could stay in Lanka with Vibhishan, or accompany Laxman or may be Sugriva. She could also go to Bharat if she so desired. Sita was bewildered by Ram's behaviour. She soon understood when Ram explained that he doubted Sita's fidelity after she had lived with Ravan for a year. 

Sita was deeply hurt that Ram should question her loyalty in front of a gathering of people. Insulted, she turned to Laxman and bade him to build a fire. She reminded Ram that Ravan had kept her captive in Lanka for a year against her will. He had tried to woo her in that time, but she had been steadfastly loyal to Ram. She told Ram that she would prove her fidelity by a trial of fire. She would walk through the fire that Laxman built, and if she had been unfaithful to her husband in thought or in deed, the flames would consume her. On the other hand, if her mind and heart had never wavered from her husband, she would emerge from the fire unscathed. After saying this, Sita calmly walked into the flames. The assembled crowd gasped with horror as the flames enveloped Sita. But a few moments later the people heaved a collective sigh of relief as Sita emerged from the roaring fire unscathed. Not a hair on her head was singed. 

There could be no greater proof of Sita's fidelity. Ram embraced Sita and said that he had never for a moment doubted her purity. But being a monarch, he had a duty to satisfy the minds of his subjects on this issue. Else, they would have no respect for him as a king. He praised Sita saying that her trial by the fire had put to rest any doubts that might have been raised in the future. 

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