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Tale of Two Appearances - Goddess Mahalakshmi
and Mother Seetha : Part 2

caturmukhēśvara mukhaiḥ putra pautrādi śālinē |
namaḥ sītā samētāya rāmāya gr̥hamēdhinē ||

Divine Birth of Seetha

Sita was born in the worthiest family of Janaka. Every member of Janaka’s lineage was of righteous conduct and diligently abided by all good traditions and customs. While ploughing the field, King Janaka found a pitcher, within which was a baby girl. As such, Seeta was ayonija (not born from a mother’s womb in the normal course).

Mahalakshmi Manifested herself as Sita by her own wish.
Whenever Lord Vishnu takes Incarnation, She also appeared to assist him in his divine play.

Here is verse from Adhytma Ramayan,
where Sita says Herself says that she is Adi Prakriti :

māṁ viddhi mūlaprakr̥tiṁ sargasthityantakāriṇīm .
tasya sannidhimātrēṇa sr̥jāmīdamatandritā ..

Know me to be the primeval Prakriti, created, preserver and destroyer . By mere proximity to him (Lord Rama) , I watchfully create all this.

So, Without a Second, Sita is Herself Mahalakshmi. She is also known as Mahamaya, She is original Source of Maya (illusion). So how can She forget herself ?

In Valmiki Ramayana Lord Bramha himself says :

sītā lakṣmīrbhavān viṣṇurdēvaḥ kr̥ṣṇaḥ prajāpatiḥ||

Sita is no other than Goddess Lakshmi, the divine consort of Lord Vishnu.

Did Others Know about it ? Not Fully - It was a Divine Secret

While King Janaka showered all the love and affection and knew that Sita is Divine. But that is about it.

antarikṣē ca vāguktā apratimā’mānuṣī kila .
ēvamētannarapatē dharmēṇa tanayā tava ..

(Valmiki Ramayana )

(Thereupon, a voice from the skies said: "As you said, O, King! Let it be so. This divine (amānuṣī) child without a match (apratimā) is a legitimate daughter to you, rightly.

Alright then how can Ravana Abduct the Supreme Mother ?
Did he really ? And could anybody even imagine ?

The Divine Secret about Mother Sita

janakasya kule jātā deva māyeva nirmitā |
sarva lakṣaṇa saṃpannā nārīṇām uttamā vadhūḥ || 1-1-27
(Valmiki Ramayana)
Seeta, who was born in the lineage of Janaka, was like the illusion created to trap the demons.
She has in her every auspicious trait as detailed in the Samudrika shastra.
She is the most supreme amongst women.

What was the purpose of "deva māyeva nirmitā" ?

From the Kurma Purana
Establishment of Maya Sita per Plan by devas
 
rāmasya bhāryāṃ vimalāṃ rāvaṇo rākṣaseśvaraḥ /
sītāṃ viśālanayanāṃ cakame kālacoditaḥ // (113)
Urged by Kala, Ravana, the king of Raksasas, desired Sita, the wide-eyed beautiful wife of Rama.

vijñāya sā ca tadbhāvaṃ smṛtvā dāśarathiṃ patim /
jagāma śaraṇaṃ vahnimāvasathyaṃ śucismitā // (115)
The lady (Sita) of pure smiles realised his intention. Remembering her husband (i.e. Sri Rama), the son of Dasaratha,
she sought refuge in the Avasathya (household) fire
.

svaṣṭvā māyāmayīṃ sītāṃ sa rāvaṇavadhepsayā /
sītāmādāya dharmiṣṭhāṃ pāvako 'ntaradhīyata // (127)
Desirous of getting Ravaņa killed established the maya Sita.
Taking the real Sita the beloved of Rāma, the fire-god vanished there.

tāṃ dṛṣṭvā tādṛśīṃ sītāṃ rāvaṇo rākṣaseśvaraḥ /
samādāya yayau laṅkāṃ sāgarāntarasaṃsthitām // (128)
On seeing such a maya Sita (i.e. the illusory one) Ravana the lord of Raksasas,
took her and went to Lankā situated with in the ocean.
 
Dis-appearance of Maya Sita

sā pratyayāya bhūtānāṃ sītā māyāmayī punaḥ /
viveśa pāvakaṃ dīptaṃ dadāha jvalano 'pi tām // (130)
For convincing the living beings, the maya Sita entered the fire; immediately she was taken by the fire.
 
 
Re-appearance of Sita

dagdhvā māyāmayīṃ sītāṃ bhagavānugradīdhitiḥ /
rāmāyādarśayat sītāṃ pāvako 'bhūt surapriyaḥ // (131)
After taking the maya Sita, the lord fire-god of hot rays, showed the real Sita to Rama.
The fire-god (the purifier) became a beloved of Devas.
 
 
Basically, the evil Ravana falls into the trap setup by Deva's trying to setup a trap for the incarnation of the Divine Mother.
And the story does not end there...

In Venkatachala Mahatmya of Skanda Purana, Vishnu describes the events happened in the Treta Yuga.

While Ravana took Vedavati to Lanka thinking she was the real Sita, while Agni took Sita to his house and asked his wife Swahadevi to look after her.After the destruction of Ravana, Vedavati entered the fire when rejected by Rama.Then, Agni, offered the real Sita to Rama.

Rama then questioned her as to who the other lady by her side was. Sita informed Rama that the lady was Vedavati who endured Ravana's torture for ten months in Lanka for her sake.

He says that it was Vedavati not Janaki who was abducted 

24-26. Afterwards when Ravana was killed, she entered fire once again. Agni handed over Lakshmi, my Janakl, who had been kept in her protective custody by Svaha and told me about the attendant accompanying Sita:

“O Lord, this is Vedavati who did what was pleasing to Sita. For the sake of Sita she remained in the abode of the Rakshasa as one imprisoned by him. Hence, delight her with a good boon”.

Rama promised to wed her in her next birth as Padmavati, born as the daughter of Akasa Raja, when Rama himself would take the form of Srinivasa.

 

You can read about this on the TTD official site at https://www.tirumala.org/srk12.aspx