Vedavati is the daughter of Brahmarishi Kusadhvaja, who is the son of Brihaspati, Lord-Guru of the Devas, the Gods. Having spent his life chanting and studying the sacred Vedas, he names his daughter Vedavati, or Embodiment of the Vedas, born as the fruit of his bhakti and tapasya.
Dedication to Vishnu
Her father wants his child to have Lord Vishnu as her husband. He thus rejects many powerful kings and celestial beings who sought his daughter's hand. Outraged by his rejection, King Sambhu murders her parents in the middle of a moonless night.
The Ramayana describes her as wearing the hide of a black antelope, her hair matted in a jata, like a rishi. She is inexpressibly beautiful, in the bloom of her youth, enhanced by her tapasya.
Immolation and death
Ravana, the emperor of Lanka and the rakshasa race found Vedavati sitting in meditation and is captivated by her incredible beauty. He propositions her and is rejected. Ravana mocks her austerities and her devotion to Vishnu; finding himself firmly rejected at every turn, he grabbed her hair. This greatly incensed her, and she forthwith cut off her hair, and said she would enter into the fire before his eyes, adding, "Since I have been insulted in the forest by thee who art wicked-hearted, I shall be born again for thy destruction." So she entered the blazing fire, and celestial flowers fell all around. It was she who was born again as Sita, and was the moving cause of Ravana's death, though Rama was the agent.
Vedavati refuses to curse Ravana as it would exhaust her tapasya, but pledges to return in another age and be the cause of his destruction.
In some versions of the Ramayana, Vedavati is reborn as Maya Sita, who takes Sita's place and is abducted by Ravana and suffers his captivity, while the real Sita hides in the fire.
Excerpt from Skanda Purana regarding this rebirth-
"In treta yugha, 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. Indra's act had special purpose behind it--to avenge Swaha's death,who was Vedavati in her previous birth and who had committed suicide after being touched by the same demon.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 Kaliyuga. The same vedavati has taken birth as Padmavati. You must go and convince Padmavati to become my consort.Vakulmalika went to Narayanpur and informed the king about Sri Hari's desire. Emperor Akash was extremely delighted at the prospect of having Sri Hari as his son-in-law. An auspicious day was chosen for the marriage and thus, Lord Sri Hari got Padmavati as his consort."
- Ramesh Menon, The Ramayana (2001)