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The human ages have been divided into four Yugas, the Satyayuga, also known as the Satyuga, the Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and the Kaliyuga.
Among these, Satyuga is the most righteous; it was a period when the body, the mind and the heart were all equally good. It is believed that whatever the holy men, such as a sage, a priest, a divine incarnation, said in the Satyuga, it would become true.
The blessings and the curses given in those times were highly effective. It was a time when all the life forms in the nature would understand each others' language. There were less sufferings.
Whatever that came from the mouth of a pure-hearted soul would destined to be true. That is why the curse given by a suffering or a happy man/woman was equally effective.
One such case was when Goddess Sita cursed a cow, a crow, a Ketaki flower, a Tulsi plant (Basil Plant) and a priest.
The Legend Of The Curse Given By Sita
The story goes back to the times of Satyuga. Lord Ram, along with Lakshman and Goddess Sita, was living in exile. King Dasharath was then dead and it was a day to pay gratitude to the long dead ancestors of the family.
This gratitude is paid by performing the Pinda Daan ceremony for the ancestors. It is done at the banks of a holy river. When all three of them reached the banks of the Phalgu river, in Gaya, Lord Ram asked the priest what are the Samagri (the sacred items required for the holy ceremony) that were required.
Upon the guidance of the priest, Lord Ram ordered Lakshman to go to the nearby village and get the items. Lakshman did not return for long, so Lord Ram decided to go and himself look for him.
The priest on the other hand had been continuously reminding them that the Muhurta (auspicious timings) for the ceremony might pass; hence they needed to make the arrangements soon.
Lord Ram too left. And much to Sita's worries, time was passing and Lord Ram also was nowhere to be seen. When the priest again reminded Sita of the Muhurta, she decided to complete the ceremony all by herself, taking whatever was available as the Samagri. She ordered the priest to begin with the rituals for the ceremony.
Lord Ram and Lakshman had not returned till then. She told the priest that they should complete the ceremony without them. When finally Sita performed the final ritual, of the Pinda Daan ceremony, and bowed to offer prayers, she heard a divine voice say that the offerings had been accepted and the ritual was completed.
Goddess Sita's heart was at peace to hear that Lord Dasharath had accepted her offerings and the Pind Daan ceremony was successful.
However, she also knew that Lord Rama and Lakshman would not believe her, because of the common belief, which was that the ceremony can not be completed without the presence of the sons.
The Goddess therefore asked the river Phalgu, the cow used in the ceremony, the Banyan tree, the Ketaki flower, the Tulsi plant and the priest to become her witnesses. All of them accepted to her orders.
Why Did Sita Curse Them?
Now, when Lord Ram and Lakshman returned, Lord Ram was enraged to hear that Sita had completed the ceremony in their absence. He feared the prayers might not be accepted. But the Goddess told them about the divine voice she heard, and ordered the witnesses to speak for her.
But much to her surprise, none of them spoke, fearing from the rage of Lord Ram. It was only the Banyan tree that could muster the courage and speak for her. Unhappy to see the response of the witnesses, she felt hurt and cursed all of them.
What Were These Curses?
- She told the river that it would never be able to raise its water level upto the level of the ground. It would always flow under the ground.
- Then, she cursed the cow, that its whole body would never be worshipped, and only the back half of the body will be considered sacred in the Hindu religion. The face of the cow would not be worshipped.
- She told the priest that whatever amount he might earn, it would be less for him, and that he would never be satisfied.
- The Ketaki flower was cursed that it would never be offered in the worship of Lord Shiva.
- Tulsi was cursed that it would never grow in the soil of Gaya.
The Banyan tree that had stood supporting the Goddess was blessed that its presence will be highly necessary for the ceremony of the Pinda Daan.