Rama was full of different aspects of his life, such as son, friend, brother, king but I feel that he has spread like a husband because who left his pregnant wife after listening to a washer man though his wife always stood by his side like a shadow.
You can say somewhat failed or not in as a husband. We have no doubt as of his role of king. We all craving the Rama-Kingdom in today. But when the matter comes to his role husband at that time some people said he was failed.
But It is not true because we all know that Lord Rama was a Man of his own limit(Maryada Purushottam). He always loyal to his duties and wife. As a king of Ayodhya and his Descent, He was forced to decide that decision. The pain he suffered after leaving his wife is so damn.
He even didn't marry other women. So, this point of view you can understand his loyalty to his wife.
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The world is already trigger happy and ready to bash Rama at the slightest instance, without really understanding the situations or the reasons for what Rama did. Rama is probably the most misunderstood character in our history, all because of ignorance and lack of knowledge and bias against Him
I'll treat Rama as Maryada Purushottam instead of the god to make my point. Ravan was abducting wives of Yaksha, Gandharva, Naga, Sages and other demigods.Most of them had supernatural powers but none tried to restore their wives from Ravan.
Mandodari is accusing Ravan
नैकयज्ञविलोप्तारं त्रातारं स्वजनस्य च || ६-१११-५४ धर्मव्यवस्थाभेत्तारं मायास्रष्टारमाहवे |
. "My husband ruined several sacrificial performances. He was the protector of his own people. He violated the moral order. He violated the moral order. He created conjuring tricks on the battlefield."
देवासुरनृकन्यानामाहर्तारं ततस्ततः || ६-१११-५५ शत्रुस्त्रीशोकदातारं नेतारं स्वजनस्य च | .
"He used to bring the virgin-daughters of gods, demons and human beings from here and there. He brought mourning to his enemy's wives. He was the leader of his own people.
Rama jeopardized his life and build a bridge across an ocean to restore his wife. This is a pinnacle of love. ISIS terrorists are abducting Yazidi women.How many Yazidi women do you know jeopardizing their life to restore their wives?
Sita banishment is from Uttara Kanda which is a later work.
The fact of the matter is that Ramayana is narrated four times in Vyasa Mahabharata.
When Pandavas were afflicted with sorrow on account of Draupadi abduction by Jayadrath then Markanadeya narrated the story of Ramayana in detail. He didn’t mention exile of Sita. You can verify from the online translation of Vyasa Mahabharata here
Lomasa also narrated Ramayana. He didn’t mention exile either. Here is the link from online translation of Vyasa Mahabharata.
In Virata Parva, when Draupadi was crying then Bheema comfort her by sufficing the example of Sita and Lopamudra. He didn’t mention exile of Sita too.
Thou mayst have heard that Janaka's daughter Sita, the princess of Videha, followed her lord while living in dense woods. And that lady of graceful hips, Rama's beloved wife, afflicted with calamities and persecuted by the Rakshasas, at length regained the company of Rama.
Narada narrated the story of great kings in summary to Yudhisthira.He narrated Ramayana with no such exile.Hanuman narrated Ramayana to Bheema in Vana Parva.
Salwa would have quoted Sita Tyaga before rejecting Amba but he didn't. Vyasa implies interpolation too.
Quoting from the Mahabharata
Whatever is here is found elsewhere. But what is not here, is nowhere else.
I can go on and one but I've made my points quite clear. Look likes such incidence was added in sacred texts when accepting abducted woman was considered bad.
Sachi, the wife of Indra, was also abducted by Anuuladha.Indra restored him after killing Puloma.It is recorded in Kiskindha Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana.
जहार आत्म विनाशाय वैदेहीम् राक्षस अधमः | वंचयित्वा तु पौलोमीम् अनुह्लादो यथा शचीम् || ३-३९-६
"That knavish demon Ravana deceitfully carried off Vaidehi for his own extinction, as demon Anuhlaada carried off Sachi Devi, the daughter of Puloma. [3-39-6]
No one demanded the banishment of Sachi.
Therefore ,I think it is fair to summise that this part is a later addition to Valmiki Ramayana.
The question "Whether Rama failed as a husband?", is the most common wrong notion of the common man. It is forgotten that it was Sita's failure as a wife and a woman, than Rama's failure as a husband.
Rama has been refered to as " Maryada Purushottam" and in every sense of the word, he was the Maryada Purushottama. The meaning of Maryada Purushottama is "One who never broke his decency while at the same time was more capable than any man".
Here is the elaboration:
Sita got captivated by the golden deer. She herself agrees and declares;
कामवृत्तमिदं रौद्रं स्त्रीणामसदृशं मतम्। वपुषा त्वस्य सत्त्वस्य विस्मयो जनितो मम।।" - 3.43.20
Translation: "This kind of request arising out of savage desire is improper for a woman. But the beauty of this animal's skin has produced in me a wonder".
She says this even after Laxmana warning that the deer was the deceitful demon Maricha in disguise.
Rama replies by saying;
"Indeed beautiful it is. Worthy to be in the possession of a king and the beautiful Sita. Lakshmana, as you say, if it is the illusion of a demon, even then it should be killed by me. The great sages were tortured and killed earlier by this cruel, evil minded Maricha while wandering in the forest. Many kings who were great archers who set out on hunting expedition were killed by him. Therefore, this animal deserves to be killed. Whoever violates a person of my kind who is ever righteous and self-controlled will be killed. O Lakshmana, delight of the Raghu dynasty, be very alert and restrained and protect Sita."
Then when Rama goes for the deer and kills Maricha, and Maricha shouts in Rama's voice "Ha Sita Ha Laxmana". Sita urges Laxmana to go to Rama's help. When Laxmana doesn't oblige, she goes on to say in a rage;
तमुवाच ततस्तत्र कुपिता जनकात्मजा। सौमित्रे मित्ररूपेण भ्रातुस्त्वमसि शत्रुवत्।।3.45.5।।
यस्त्वमस्यामवस्थायां भ्रातरं नाभिपत्स्यसे। इच्छसि त्वं विनश्यन्तं रामं लक्ष्मण मत्कृते।।3.45.6।।
Translation: The daughter of Janaka in a rage said : Since you, O son of Sumitra, are not reaching out to your brother in this situation, you are an enemy to your brother in the guise of a friend. It is to possess me that you wish Rama's death.
To this Laxmana says "There is no doubt that pannagas, asuras, gandharvas, gods, men or even demons cannot defeat him. one among gods or men, gandharvas, birds or goblins kinnaras, wild animals or dreadful demons can encounter Rama in war. Rama is indestructible in war. It is not proper for you to say what you said. When he is not here I do not wish to leave you alone here in the forest. He cannot be stopped by the strength of the mighty, or by Indra supported by gods or by the well equipped armies of all the three worlds. May your heart be relieved (of this fear). Give up this grief. Your husband will soon return with the excellent deer killed. Surely it is not his voice. It is contrived by someone's illusory power. It is the illusion created by that demon, like the city of the gandharvas. Rama has entrusted your safety to me. I do not wish to leave you here alone. We have developed enmity with the demons.".
To this Sita spoke harshly;
अब्रवीत्परुषं वाक्यं लक्ष्मणं सत्यवादिनम्। अनार्याकरणारम्भ नृशंस कुलपांसन।।3.45.21।।
अहं तव प्रियं मन्ये रामस्य व्यसनं महत्। रामस्य व्यसनं दृष्ट्वा तेनैतानि प्रभाषसे।।3.45.22।।
नैतच्चित्रं सपत्नेषु पापं लक्ष्मण यद्भवेत्। त्वद्विधेषु नृशंसेषु नित्यं प्रच्छन्नचारिषु।।3.45.23।।
सुदुष्टस्त्वं वने राममेकमेकोऽनुगच्छसि। मम हेतोः प्रतिच्छन्नः प्रयुक्तोभरतेन वा।।3.45.24।।
Translation: "O ignoble, cruel Lakshmana, you are a disgrace to your family. I think this great disaster of Rama is a pleasure to you. Do you speak such words seeing the disaster of Rama? No wonder that cruel men who always move like you in disguise will thus resort to sinful action against rivals. You are very wicked. You are hiding your true identity, and employed by Bharata, you are following Rama in the forest as he is alone."
To this Laxmana replied;
वाक्यमप्रतिरूपं तु न चित्रं स्त्रीषु मैथिलि। स्वभावस्त्वेष नारीणामेवं लोकेषु दृश्यते।।3.45.29।।
विमुक्तधर्माश्चपलास्तीक्ष्णा भेदकराः स्त्रियः। न सहे हीदृशं वाक्यं वैदेहि जनकात्मजे।।3.45.30।।
श्रोत्रयोरुभयोर्मेद्य तप्तनाराचसन्निभम्। उपशृण्वन्तु मे सर्वे साक्षिभूता वनेचराः।।3.45.31।।
न्यायवादी यथान्यायमुक्तोऽहं परुषं त्वया। धिक्त्वामद्य प्रणश्य त्वं यन्मामेवं विशङ्कसे। स्त्रीत्वलदुष्टं स्वभावेन गुरुवाक्ये व्यवस्थितम्।।3.45.32।।
गमिष्ये यत्र काकुत्स्थ स्वस्ति तेऽस्तु वरानने।।3.45.33।।
रक्षन्तु त्वां विशालाक्षि समग्रा वनदेवताः। निमित्तानि च घोराणि यानि प्रादुर्भवन्ति मे।।3.45.34।।
अपि त्वां सह रामेण पश्येयं पुनरागतः। न वेत्येतन्न जानामि वैदेहि जनकात्मजे।।3.45.35।।
लक्ष्मणेनैवमुक्ता सा रुदन्ती जनकात्मजा। प्रत्युवाच ततो वाक्यं तीव्रं बाष्पपरिप्लुता।।3.45.36।।
Translation: "O princess from Mithila, I do not want to use such harsh words. To me you are a deity (worthy of adoration). It is not surprising that women of the world use such undeserving words. It is their nature. Women devoid of dharma are fickle and inconsistent. They use sharp, piercing words. O daughter of Janaka, O princess from Videha, your words pierce my ears like redhot darts. I cannot tolerate them. I speak what is just, while you use harsh and unjust words. Let all beings who move in the forest bear witness. Fie upon you. Like a woman of wicked nature you doubt me when I stood firm by my brother's words. You will go to ruin. I will go to Rama wherever he may be. Be happy. O large eyed one, may all the deities of the forest protect you. I see dreadful omens. I do not know whether I will see you when I am back with Rama."
To this Sita replied;
गोदावरीं प्रवेक्ष्यामि विना रामेण लक्ष्मण। अबन्धिष्येऽथवा त्यक्ष्ये विषमे देहमात्मनः।।3.45.37।।
पिबाम्यहं विषं तीक्ष्णं प्रवेक्ष्यामि हुताशनम्। न त्वहं राघवादन्यं पदापि पुरुषं स्पृशे।।3.45.38।।
इति लक्ष्मणमाक्रुश्य सीता दुःखसमन्विता। पाणिभ्यां रुदती दुःखादुदरं प्रजघान ह।।3.45.39।।
Translation: "Without Rama I will drown myself in Godavari or hang myself or leap from a cliff into death. I will drink deadly poison or enter fire and die, but will not touch any other man even with my feet. Thus Sita cried in distress, sadly hitting her belly with both the hands, blaming Lakshmana (all the time).
Eventually Laxmana left.
What we see here is; in the ecstasy of the desire for the deer and love for Rama, Sita breaks all the barriers of decency and behaves like the most common wicked minded woman not befitting for the wife of the great Marayada Purushottam.
Rama has nothing to do with whatever happened to Sita. It is herself, and her human weaknesses, that are to be blamed.
Rama went after the deer with two thoughts, as is evident from his statement. One, to possess the best and fulfil the desire of his beloved wife, if the deer was a naturally born beautiful creature. Two, if it was not, then to punish the evil Maricha. In both the thoughts he had the business of fulfilling the 'duties' of, one the husband, two as a king. Now coming to 'why Rama has nothing to do with Sita's abduction and eventually all her future miseries'. Rama did not leave her alone. He left her in the custody of the worthy Laxmana. It was Sita, who made herself vulnerable by, doubting the abilities of Rama and the character of Laxmana in her emotional frenzy, the weakness of womanhood, as pointed by Laxmana/Valmiki. Laxmana left her disgusted saying, 'you will be ruined, because of your wicked thoughts'. Now coming to Rama's intention to accumulate all that is best. Rama was a king. He was not a Sadhu. He was a King in exile. But he possessed the Satvic qualities of a Sanyasi. Rama did not want the wealth for the greed of it. He had a duty to perform as a king. The wealth that he would possess as a king would be used for the welfare of the state. Eventually his possession makes sure that the wealth does not get into the hands of evil entities, who would use it for evil deeds.
One wonders here; why Laxmana/Valmiki depicts Sita in such low light. We need to consider these epic personalities like Rama, Sita, Krishna, Yudhishthira, Draupadi, Duryodhana, Ravana, etc as human beings born with extraordinary qualities. There is a word in Sanskrit "देवांशसंभूत", which means man born with divine qualities, which also means born with human qualities too. Without the divine qualities, they would be common men & women like us, about whom we won't be discussing here. There would be no epics written about them. “Amsha” here means, “Partial”. As regards Sita doing her duty as a wife in sending Laxmana to rescue Rama, the person who smashed the Shiv-Dhanush like a toy, which no other man could even move, shows that she didn't know her husband. Laxmana tells her that, emphatically, that Rama cannot be harmed by any being. But she was overwhelmed by the weakness of the womanhood, that Laxmana/Valmiki are pointing out. Her stooping to the level of suspecting Laxmana of ill intentions, that too of adultery with his brother's wife, that Laxmana who had left his own beloved wife and followed to the forest to serve his brother & wife. Sita was not a wicked woman by nature. But Ramayana shows how a woman like Sita, despite having the divine “Amsha” of goddess Laxmi, who could lift the Shiv Dhanush herself, could also be dispirited when met with extreme circumstances. There is lesson to learn here, but not to get annoyed.
There is another woman in Ramayana, Kaikeyi, born with the “Amsha” of Sun god and the blessings of sages. See what can womanhood achieve. It can rise to the level of helping Dasharatha win a campaign against Sambarasura, an enemy of both Indra and Dasharatha. It can also stoop to the level of sending the most noble soul, the Maryadapurushottam Ram to the forest in order to seat her own son on the throne. Take the example of Yudhishthira, the man born with the “Amsha” of Yamadharma. He possessed the knowledge to answer all the questions of Yaksha which none of his learned brothers could and lost their lives but Yudhishthira brought them back to life. But he also bet his wife and brothers in dice.
Further some more questions may arise in the minds of some of us; like how is "getting attracted to a beautiful deer" and "sending someone to protect her husband" a Sita's failure as a woman & a wife? And If Rama had already made his mind that Seeta is polluted, why did he bring her back? These sections of Ramayana are very important to understand life. We should apply the utmost concentration while reading such sections.
As far as the first question is concerned, Sita herself has answered it. She says "This kind of request arising out of savage desire is improper for a woman.". And the other one "sending someone to protect ...", is answered by Laxmana. He said "There is no doubt that pannagas, asuras, gandharvas, gods, men or even demons cannot defeat him. one among gods or men, gandharvas, birds or goblins kinnaras, wild animals or dreadful demons can encounter Rama in war. Rama is indestructible in war.". We need to apply our mind here, over the phrase "savage desire is improper for a woman". And also on, who would need protection of Laxmana more, "the indestructible Rama" or "the lone Sita in a forest filled with demon enemies". Only a stable & consistent mind could answer this question correctly. That is why Laxmana says "... Women devoid of dharma are fickle and inconsistent. ... Like a woman of wicked nature you doubt me... ". So what we need to grasp here is, Sita had the solemn duty as a Satvic & Dharmic wife to keep her mind stable & consistent and have belief in Rama's abilities, and give importance to the fact that, it is she who needed protection than Rama. Any evil happening to her could not only bring infamy to herself but even to her husband and his 'Vamsha'. She was among the dangers of a forest, not in the guarded palace. Laxmana reminds her of this by saying "I do not wish to leave you here alone. We have developed enmity with the demons.".
And as far as "If Rama had already made his mind that Seeta is polluted ....", is concerned; Rama never ever thought Sita was polluted at any time.
Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddhakanda, ६-११८-१३ to ६-११८-१९:
When Agni presents Sita back to Rama bringing her out of the pyre, Agni says "Take back Seetha, who is sinless, with a pure character. She should not be told anything harsh. I hereby command you."
To this Rama says "Seetha certainly deserves this pure factory ordeal in the eyes of the people in as much as this blessed woman had resided for a long time indeed in the gynaecium of Ravana. The world would chatter against me, saying that Rama, the son of Dasaratha, was really foolish and that his mind was dominated by lust, if I accept Seetha without examining her with regard to her chastity. I also know that Seetha, the daughter of Janaka, who ever revolves in my mind, is undivided in her affection to me. Ravana could not violate this wide-eyed woman, protected as she was by her own splendour, any more than an ocean would transgress its bounds. In order to convince the three worlds, I, whose refugee is truth, ignored Seetha while she was entering the fire. The evil-minded Ravana was not able to lay his violent hands, even in thought, o the unobtainable Seetha, who was blazing like a flaming tongue of fire. This auspicious woman could not give way to the sovereignty, existing in the gynaecium of Ravana, in as much as Seetha is not different from me, even as sunlight is not different from the sun. ".
Rama was just reacting with utmost decency at all times. Even when Sita was the captive of another man, he accepted her as his wife and loved her as ever. When he sent the pregnant Sita to the forest, it was not his wish, he was acting in order to keep the Dharma prevailing in the society.
Uttarakandam, Edited and Published by MANMATHA NATH DUTT
One day Rama asked his councillors to tell everything his citizens felt and talked about him, Sita and his brothers. "Without hiding any thing, do thou relate every thing, what good and bad things have been given vent to by the citizens. Hearing the good and bad opinions of the citizens I shall desist from bad actions and engage in good ones. Whatever vicious actions of mine are talked of by subjects in cities and provinces do thou relate unto me confidently and fearlessly." To this his councillor replied "People ask how can Rāma enjoy delight in Sita's company, the one who was in the captivity of the Raksha King Ravan? Should Rama's subjects also take delight in the company of wives with bad conduct?". Hearing this the shocked Rama immediately sent for his three brothers. And said to them "Hear, what the citizens have been talking about me and Sitā. The citizens as well as the inhabitants of provinces have been showering censures upon me. I have been pierced to the very vitals by those accusations. A great sorrow consequent upon the censure of the citizens and villagers hath pierced my heart. He, who is notorious on this earth and as long as that notoriety remains current, is classed amongst the vile. Even the celestials speak ill of bad name whereas fame is adored in all the regions. Therefore the high-souled exert their best to acquire reputation. I can even renounce my life and yourselves in fear of bad name. Do you therefore perceive into what great abyss of sorrow and ill-fame have fallen. Up to this time have never experienced such mighty grief. Ere this Sità had communicated her intention of beholding the hermitages of ascetics on the banks of the Ganges. Let that desire of hers be now satisfied".
So Rama cannot be blamed for any sorrow of Sita. He himself went through the same amount of sorrow, as much as Sita, for no fault of his. He even went through the ordeal of searching for her, collecting an army and slaying the mighty king Ravana and his powerful army to relieve her from her distress of becoming a concubine of a demon king who took her by force.