In Ramayana, I have read somewhere that Sita is Avatar of a pious women who was a devotee of God Vishnu in previous birth. Please let me know the related sloka from Ramayana?
Answer is Both.
Sita was incarnation of Godess Lakshmi. But, Sita whom Ravana abducted was avatar of a pious women (Vedvati) who was a devotee of God Vishnu.
This is what Ravana suspects in Valmiki Ramayan: Yuddha Kanda: Sarga 60:
शप्तोऽहम् वेदवत्या च यदा सा धर्षिता पुरा || ६-६०-१०
सेयम् सीता महाभागा जाता जनकनन्दिनी |
[Ravana:] Further, I was formerly cursed by Vedavati when she was humiliated by me. The same Vedavati is born as the highly fortunate Seetha the daughter of Janaka.
And this is confirmed in Valmiki Ramayan: Uttar Kanda: Sarga 17:
O Lord, this is she (Vedavati) that hath been born as the daughter of king Janaka, thy wife, O mighty armed one. Thou are the eternal Vishnu. ~English translation source
But, this doesn't mean that Sita was not incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. See the below Shlokas:
Valmiki Ramayan: Yuddha Kanda: Sarga 117:
सीता लक्ष्मीर्भवान् विष्णुर्देवः कृष्णः प्रजापतिः || ६-११७-२८
वधार्थं रावणस्येह प्रविष्टो मानुषीं तनुम् |
[Lord Brahma:] Seetha is no other than Goddess Lakshmi (the divine consort of Lord Vishnu), while you are Lord Vishnu. You are having a shining dark-blue hue. You are the Lord of created beings. For the destruction of Ravana, you entered a human body here, on this earth.
This is enough and no other proof needed because this is confirmed by Lord Brahma himself.
However it's further confirmed in Valmiki Ramayan: Uttar Kanda too:
Uttar Kanda Ref 1:
Uttar Kanda Ref 2:
Now, the biggest Question is how to handle this? In such scenarios, we generally have 3 answers:
- this might be due to interpolation or
- this might be due to Kalpa Bheda or
- may be we are missing some dots that means this should be dived deep.
I think option 3 is relevant here because Kalpa Bheda should not be the case in the same scripture and interpolation might be there in Uttar Kanda but we have references from Yudha Kanda too.
This is what Skanda Purana says in this regard:
[Lord Varaha said--]: In Treta yuga, when I had incarnated as Ram, Ravan had deceitfully abducted my consort--Sita. But fortunately she was not Sita but Agni's consort Swaha. Before this incident could occur, Agni had already taken Sita to Patalloka and kept his own wife 'Swaha' in her place. Actually, Agni's consort 'Swaha' was 'Vedavati' in her previous birth. So, in reality Ravan had abducted Vedavati instead of Sita. Later on, I thanked Agni and promised him that I would make Vedavati my consort in Kali yuga. The same Vedavati has taken birth as Padmavati.