Ramayana Polygamy and Monogamy

It is interesting to note that in the Ramayana, only Rama and Sita are monogamous making a special bond between them. Every other character is either single or has multiple wives. Rama’s father, Dasaratha, and Ravana both have multiple wives and their relationship with them seems to be somewhat less than ideal. Rama’s mother, Kausalya, weeps when she finds out that Rama will not become the crown prince. She states that, “I have always been treated with less affection and respect than Kaikeyi’s servants were treated.” Ravana tells Sita that she is his most favorite and that he would gladly get rid of his other wives for her. In both cases the polygamous relationship features disrespect towards the wives. Only Rama and Sita respect each other, both of them come to each other’s aid, Rama saving Sita from a crow, demons, and Ravana himself, while Sita joins him in his exile claiming that she was his other half. They both remain virtuous towards each other and they are both triumphant in the end. It seems that even though Valmiki, the author, lived in a society that accepted polygamy, he favored monogamy instead.

3 thoughts on “Ramayana Polygamy and Monogamy

  1. I noticed this as well, but it can be argued that Rama would consider Sita his one and only. Early on he stated he would give her up if his father wished it so, which shows something about his devotion towards her. Following this, if his father had asked him to wed someone else, wouldn’t he do that as well? Perhaps he’d also marry more than once if he wished. While he was dedicated to his wife, he might’ve only been so because she was his wife, and he would’ve done that for any woman with that title.

  2. Yea I agree. Rama and Sita are the only one’s that would be viewed as normal in terms of relationship in our society. All the other characters wives were okay with their husband having more than one woman. I guess it’s a depiction of society during that time.

  3. I’ll agree that Valmiki seems to have some sort of bias towards monogamy and that the text does indeed reflect the values one might suspect out of Ancient Hindus, but I’m not sure that accounts for his emphasis on the sanctity and profundity of the bond between a husband and wife. I realize this sounds a bit cryptic, but I think there’s… something bigger at work here.

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