I've read the claims that she was a child at the time of marriage. Is that really true? What scriptures tell about the marriage age of Sita?
Here is what Sita says to Ravana in aranya kanda(sita says that when Rama left ayodhya for exile,Rama was 25 years old and sita says she was or is 18 years old.
मम भर्ता महातेजा वयसा पंच विंशकः || अष्टा दश हि वर्षाणि मम जन्मनि गण्यते | (Aranya Kanda 47 Sarga 11 sloka)
"My great-resplendent husband was of twenty-five years of age at that time, and to me eighteen years are reckoned up from my birth. "
Here is what Sita says to Hanuman
समा द्वादश तत्र अहम् राघवस्य निवेशने || ५-३३-१७ भुन्जाना मानुषान् भोगान् सर्व काम समृद्धिनी | I
ततः त्रयोदशे वर्षे राज्येन इक्ष्वाकु नन्दनम् || ५-३३-१८ अभिषेचयितुम् राजा स उपाध्यायः प्रचक्रमे | I stayed in Rama's house there for twelve years, enjoying the worldly pleasures belonging to human kind and fulfilling all my desires."
ततः त्रयोदशे वर्षे राज्येन इक्ष्वाकु नन्दनम् || ५-३३-१८ अभिषेचयितुम् राजा स उपाध्यायः प्रचक्रमे | Thereafter, in the thirteenth year, King Dasaratha along with his preceptors started to perform anointment of the kingdom to Rama, a celebrity of Ikshvaku dynasty."
Now if you calculate maths then sita says to ravana she is 18 years and she also says to Hanuman she stayed in Rama s home for 12 years before exile so if this is the case then it sounds weird that Sita was 6 years old when she married Rama.
The above part engages in wrong mathematics. It committed deduction(-) instead of addition(+).
1st statement claims Sita told Ravana she married Rama at 18.
2nd statement claims Sita told Hanuman she stayed with Rama for 12 years and had to leave on 13th year.
So, Sita married at 18 and stayed with her husband Rama for 12 years post marriage and then left for Vanprastha on 13th year at the age of 31.
18+12 = 30. Sita's age on 13th year of her marriage will be 31.
There is no mention of pre marital live-in relationship of Rama and Sita in any version of Ramayana on the planet to even consider that 12 years of living with Rama (mentioned in second statement to Hanuman) is pre marriage.
ऊन षोडश वर्षो मे रामो राजीव लोचनः | न युद्ध योग्यताम् अस्य पश्यामि सह राक्षसैः || १-२०-२Less than sixteen years of age is my lotus-eyed Rama, and I see no warring aptitude to him with the demons. [1-20-2
In this verse King dashratha says to sage vishwamitra that he is less then 16 years not 16 which could mean around 12-13 years.
Full context is, Rama and Lakshamana left for training under Vishwamitra to kill demon Tadka at the age of 12-14. Both Rama and Lakshamana trained under Vishwamitra for years, learned marital arts and weapon usage from him, received a lot of divine weapons from Vishwamitra and only after that engaged in battle with Tadka and killed her.
After killing Tadka both the princes travelled with Vishwamitra and eventually went to Sita's kingdom.
As per the Skanda Mahā-Purāṇa, at the time of their marriage, goddess Sītā was 6 years old, & Śrī Rāma was 15 years old.
Chapter 30, Dharmāraṇya-khaṇḍa, Book 3 - Brāhma-khaṇḍa, Skanda-purāṇa
ईश्वरस्य धनुर्भग्नं जनकस्य गृहे स्थितम् ।
रामः पंचदशे वर्षे षड्वर्षां चैव मैथिलीम् ॥ ८ ॥
उपयेमे तदा राजन्रम्यां सीतामयोनिजाम् ।
कृतकृत्यस्तदा जातः सीतां संप्राप्य राघवः ॥ ९ ॥
- to 9. The bow of Īśvara that was kept in the abode of Janaka, was broken. In his fifteenth year, O king, Rāma married the six-year old beautiful daughter of the king of Mithilā, Sītā who was not born of a womb. On getting Sītā, Rāghava became contented and happy.
English Translation by G.V. Tagare
In Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, Seetha tells Ravana that she had stayed at Ayodhya for 12 years after marriage. When She had left for Vanvaas, she was 18 and Rama was 25 years of age. Does it mean she was 6 and Rama was 13 at time of marriage ? Since vedic era, Upanayana or initiation of education was considered as 2nd birth (Dwija). For Brahmins it was done at age of 8, Kshatriyas at 11 and Vaishyas at 12. They were called Dwija (twice born) after that (Apasthamba Grihya Sutra). Since both Seetha and Rama were from Kshatriya families, both of them were initiated at age of 11. So, after their 2nd birth (initiation), their new age was 6 and 13, but their biological age was 17 and 24 years respectively at time of marriage. After 12 years of married life at Ayodhya, when they left for Forest exile, their new ages were 18 and 25 but biological ages were 29 and 36 years.
उषित्वा द्वादश समाः इक्ष्वाकुणाम निवेशने।। भुंजाना मानुषान भोगतसेव काम समृद्धिनी।। (अरण्यकाण्ड ४७: ४) Note that the words Dwa and Dash are different in this verse. Yedwadash refers to not twelve but to "two" and tens to "Dasharatha". In this, Mother Sita is telling Ravana, that in two years at the place of King Dasharatha of the Ikshvaku clan, he has received all kinds of happiness that is available to human beings. Because in this verse, Sita ji is speaking the name of the Ikshvaku clan – but in that clan she was married to Dashrath's son Ram – it is clear – the name Dashrath is not written anywhere else in the entire verse – so "Dwa" is addressed to two and "Dash" – to Maharaj Dashrath. Not fully understanding it – something like this is interpreted – an example – "At that time small children were kept locked in a room" – it was interpreted as – "At that time small children were eaten by monkeys in the room the meaning of the verse changed the whole purpose. मम भर्ता महातेजा वयसा पंच विंशक ।।३-४७-१०।। अष्टा दश हि वर्षिणी नान जन्मनि गण्यते ।।३-४७-११।। In this verse, Mother Sita is saying that at that time (at the time of departure from exile) my stunning husband was twenty-five years old and at that time I was eighteen years old from birth. It is known that at the time of departure from exile, Mother Sita was eighteen years old and she lived with King Dasharatha for about two years, that is, Mother Sita was married around the age of sixteen. It's just a difference of thinking and understanding. सिद्धाश्रम :: Shri Ram went to Siddhaashram with Sage Vishwamitra in the 14th-16th year. This fact is also confirmed by verse 2 of the twentieth chapter of The Bal Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, in which King Dasharatha expresses his anguish and says that his Kamalnayan Ram was not even sixteen years old and he does not even have the ability to fight the demons. उनषोडशवर्षो में रामो राजीवलोचन: न युद्धयोग्य्तामास्य पश्यामि सहराक्षसौ॥ ** (बालकाण्ड, सर्ग २०, शलोक २)** Ram went to Sage Vishwamitra at the age of fourteen or sixteen and only after that he was married. It is proved that Rama was married after sixteen years. Shri Ram and Lakshman stayed in Sage Vishwamitra's ashram Siddhashram for about 12 years and Sage Vishwamitra gave him the knowledge and practice of 72 weapons. If Shri Ram's age is considered to be 16 not 14 while going to his ashram with Sage Vishwamitra, then 12 years were spent in sage Vishwamitra's ashram while taking education, the sum of which is 26 years - the above facts prove that Shri Ram's age was 25-26 years while going to Swayamvar in Mithila and Mother Sita was 16 years old. Even now, if some people do not believe, then please tell me - if the age of Shri Ram at the time of Swayamvar is 16 years and the age of Mother Sita is 6 years - then did Shri Ram go into exile at the age of 2-4 years?