The Mahabharata Home
"Markandeya said, 'And while the chaste Sita was dwelling there afflicted with melancholy and grief on account of her lord, attired in mean garb, with but a single jewel (on the marital thread on her wrist), and incessantly weeping, seated on a stone, and waited upon by Rakshasa women, Ravana, afflicted by the shafts of the god of desire, came to her and approached her presence. And inflamed by desire, that conquerer in battle of the gods, the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, and the Kimpurushas, attired in celestial robes and possessing handsome features, decked with jewelled earrings and wearing a beautiful garland and crown, entered the Asoka woods,
like an embodiment of the vernal season. And dressed with care, Ravana looked like the Kalpa tree in Indra's garden. But though adorned with every embellishment, that inspired her only with awe, like a beautified banian in the midst of a cemetery. And that night wanderer, having approached the presence of that slender-waisted lady, looked like the planet Saturn in the presence of Rohini. And smitten with the shafts of the god of the flowery emblem he accosted that fair-hipped lady then affrighted like a helpless doe, and told her these words, 'Thou hast, O Sita, shown thy regard for thy lord too much! O thou of delicate limbs, be merciful unto me. Let thy person be embellished now (by these maids in waiting). O excellent lady, accept me as thy lord! And, O thou of the most beautiful complexion, attired in costly robes and ornaments, take thou the first place among all the women of my household. Many are the daughters of the celestials and also the Gandharvas that I possess! I am lord also of many Danava and Daitya ladies! One hundred and forty millions of Pisachas, twice as many man-eating Rakshasa of terrible deed, and thrice as many Yaksha do my bidding! Some of these are under the sway of my brother who is the lord of all treasures. In my drinking hall, O excellent lady of beautiful thighs, Gandharvas and Apsaras wait on me as they do on my brother! I am, again, the son of that regenerate Rishi Visravas himself of high ascetic merit. I am renowned, again, as the fifth Regent of the Universe! And, O beautiful lady, of food and edibles and drinks of the very best kind, I have as much as the Lord himself of the celestials! Let all thy troubles consequent on a life in the woods cease! O thou of fair hips, be my Queen, as Mandodari herself!' Thus addressed by him, the beautiful princess of Videha, turning away and regarding him as something less than a straw, replied unto that wanderer of the night. And at that time the princess of Videha, that girl of beautiful hips, had her deep and compact bosom copiously drenched by her inauspicious tears shed ceaselessly. And she who regarded her husband as her god, answered that mean wretch, saying, 'By sheer ill-luck it is, O king of the Rakshasas, that I am obliged to hear such words of grievous import spoken by thee! Blessed be thou, O Rakshasa fond of sensual pleasures, let thy heart be withdrawn from me! I am the wife of another, ever devoted to my husband, and, therefore, incapable of being possessed by thee! A helpless human being that I am, I cannot be a fit wife for thee! What joy can be thine by using violence towards an unwilling woman? Thy father is a wise Brahmana, born of Brahma and equal unto that Lord himself of the creation! Why dost thou not, therefore, thyself being equal to a Regent of the Universe, observe virtue? Disgracing thy brother, that king of the Yakshas, that adorable one who is the friend of Maheswara himself, that lord of treasures, how is it that thou feelest no shame?' Having said these words, Sita began to weep, her bosom shivering in agitation, and covering her neck and face with her garments. And the long and well-knit braid, black and glossy, falling from the head of the weeping lady, looked like a black snake. And hearing these cruel words uttered by Sita, the foolish Ravana, although thus rejected, addressed Sita once more, saying, 'O lady, let the god having the Makara for his emblem burn me sorely. I will, however,
on no account, O thou of sweet smiles and beautiful hips, approach thee, as thou art unwilling! What can I do to thee that still feelest a regard for Rama who is only a human being and, therefore, our food?' Having said those words unto that lady of faultless features, the king of the Rakshasa made himself invisible then and there and went away to the place he liked. And Sita, surrounded by those Rakshasa women, and treated with tenderness by Trijata, continued to dwell there in grief."
Next: Section CCLXXX