Love at First Sight – Is it for Real?
“Do you believe in the love at first sight concept? Is it for real? What do our scriptures tell about it?” I found this question from a senior reader in my WhatsApp Broadcast list as interesting and unusual.
Whether you believe it or not, it exists. What’s more, the very first ever “love at first sight” incident on the earth is recorded here, in India.
“Seriously Uday? In India?” he was amazed.
“Yes, in India. The first-ever “love at first sight” on the earth is recorded in Ramayana. And yes, it was between Rama and Sita. It was written down by Sage Valmiki. “
According to scientific studies, the love, at first sight, may necessarily not usually mutual, but the love between Ram and Sita was mutual. And their love was long-lasting.
“I don’t know about the story, can you tell me?” he asked.
“It’s not a story. It is history. Itihasa means history as it truly happened”
“Ok, then the historical event..”
“One day, Princess Sita walks on the terrace of her palace when she sees Rama standing just below. Their eyes meet and it is love at first sight for both of them,”
What would have happened? Science says this: When you feel like you’re falling in love, a chemical reaction is actually happening in your brain, releasing all those warm, fuzzy feelings. That means, your brain is creating dopamine and serotonin. Because of those chemicals, you may feel an instant attachment to someone, and as long as your brain can sense that attachment is returned, it is on.
Ramayana tells that Rama and Sita’s magnetism for each other was obvious to everyone around them. They looked each other in the eyes. When you look into another person’s eyes, your adaptive oscillators — which are part of the prefrontal cortex, which is the orbital frontal complex — lock between you and your partner and it forms a loop, says studies.
In the Kambha Ramayan (there are hundreds of versions about Rama life), which is in the Tamil Language, there’s a verse that says “Analum nokkinal avalum nokkinal” indicating the two eyes met each other.
Sita was immediately love stuck, and Rama was captivated by her beauty and elegance. It had only taken a second, but the spell was cast. They were hopelessly in love!
Studies also revealed that most people who experienced love, at first sight, ended up in a long term relationship with that person, which is what lead the researchers to believe that love, at first sight, is a memory bias and not its own unique type of love, as many people might think. However, both should experience “love at first sight”. That’s why Rama and Sita’s love lasted forever.
“Interesting, but what happened after they met? Did they talk?”
“No. Sita shyly runs back inside and prays that Rama should end up becoming her husband. Sita prays to Goddess Parvati and bowed to her sacred feet.
- However, some versions of Ramayana say that seeing the purity of Sita’s love and devotion, the goddess lets a garland drop in front of Sita, which she put around her neck. Parvati blesses Sita.
Meanwhile, as Rama got ready for bed that night, he could not calm down, for the first time in his life. The vision of beautiful Sita was stuck in his mind. He could still see her sparkling eyes. Rama did not even know her name, only that she had captured his heart.
Sita’s father the King Janaka could well be called the first feminist father. He taught his daughters to lead. None of the girls were discouraged from speaking up or take the lead, unafraid to voice their opinions and choice.
In ancient India, marriage was mostly a choice of girls. Sita chooses Rama and they get married. To know Rama’s love for Sita and vice versa, there are two incidents.
- The only person who chose the wife’s name as the first name would be Rama. “SitaRam” is a male name, whereas “Rugmini Krishna” or “Parvathi Parameshwar” are female names. Think about it. Except for Sitaram can you find any other male who can put his wife’s name first? Rama considered it a privilege.
- Rama never walked in front of Sita. Instead, Sita leads Rama. when Shri Rama is preparing to go to exile in the forest all alone, she addresses him thus: “O son of an illustrious monarch, a father, a mother, a brother, a son or a daughter-in-law, all enjoy the fruit of their karma individually and receive what is their due. It is only the wife who actually shares the fortunes of her husband. When you depart this day for the dense forests which are difficult to penetrate, I shall walk ahead of you crushing under my feet, all the thorns that lie on your way.”
Rama and Sita were prepared to do anything for each other, fight wars, leave riches, live austerely; never stop loving one another. Sita was committed to Rama until the end. She never surrendered to Ravan, despite him trying to tempt her with every trick in the book!
Sita’s silent acquiescence to everything Ram does is not mere wifely obedience. She was courageous and powerful in her own way and if she chooses silence or suffering, it is for the cause of love. The love story of Ram and Sita has many layers we just need to be perceptive to understand better. I haven’t read any versions of Ramayana in this dimension of love. I don’t know the reason.
The “love at first sight” with each other is the very first thing between Rama and Sita, and all that unfolds afterward between them has to be understood in this light of love. If we understand the fact that first and foremost they were deeply in love with each other, then many apparently meaningless questions, especially from the so-called ‘modern progressive thinkers’ – wouldn’t have arisen about the lives of Rama and Sita.
“Haha, Indians follow the arranged marriage system, they don’t realize the love,” he said.
“That’s is a foolish sweeping statement. Hindus follow the ‘love at first sight’ system. The families make sure that the boy and girl see each other. And this seeing was in between equals – in class, varna, and society. Though we call it arranged marriage, it is a misnomer.
Our ancestors believed it’s a systematic way to get married. You see only externals first. At the body level. Then the mind acts. It becomes a union at mind and body level only! As you live together, you develop a family. When the physical desire (Kama) reduces slowly you move towards Moksha (Enlightenment) – that’s love turns out to respect each other. That’s why towards the fag-end Hindu couple addresses each other “Pathi Dev” and “Patni Devi” – their love would be everlasting.
However, nowadays the arranged marriages are manipulative (instead of family reputation, they go for money) and superstitious (horoscope matching). Those are not the result of “love at first sight”. Even if one doesn’t feel the love, they are compelled to marry. That’s why so many divorces popped up.
“What about today’s love marriage?”
“It also a misnomer. It can be called ‘self-arranged marriage’ and not ‘love marriage’. That happens mostly on hormone gush only, and not between the equals. Almost all marriages in Hindu Puranas were love marriages, where the bride had the upper hand for selecting the groom. Since there was real love, the marriage sustained. When you mistake hormone gush as love, it won’t sustain. Real love happens when both experience the “love at first sight”. That’s why the marriage of Rama and Sita sustain as a glorious example of love.
There are thousands of examples of “love at first sight” in our Puranas. If you want to read the first, longest, and most beautiful love letter with lyrical sweetness, read Megha Sandesha (The Cloud Messenger) by the greatest Sanskrit poet Kalidasa.
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