“Being childless, he (Janaka) took me on his lap from affection and saying, ‘This is my daughter’, conceived affection for me.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 118)
The birth of a new child is one of the most joyous occasions for any family. The new parents and grandparents are especially affected since they will now take charge of the child’s upbringing. The early years of the child especially bring pleasure to the elderly members of the family since that is when the child engages in innocent play and other sportive activities.
Children give so much pleasure to their parents because there is an innocent and pure exchange of love that exists between a father and son, mother and daughter, and so forth. Pure love is the actual nature of the material world, descending from its original form in the spiritual world.
“The Absolute Truth is the original source of everything." (Vedanta-sutra)
Since everything in this world emanates from the spiritual world, we can conclude that love also exists in the spiritual world. There the love is completely pure since it is directed towards Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That love manifests itself in a different way in the material world, usually in the form of lust. Paternal affection is actually a purer form of this lust since it is not contaminated by any selfish desires. A child is the essence of innocence since it hasn’t developed the inhibitions that most adults have. Therefore a parent feels pure bliss when exchanging love with their children. For example, if a child brings home a drawing from school and presents it as a gift to the parent, the parent takes this to be the most precious gift they have ever received. This holds true regardless of the actual artistic quality of the drawing. If something is given to us with love and devotion, then we gladly accept it. This is a trait we inherited from Lord Krishna Himself:
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)
A young child is completely dependent on their parents, thus the loving feelings shown by the parents increase even more. There is nothing like hearing your child say “Momma” or “Dadda” for the first time. Their first steps and their first words are forever treasured by the parents. A loving child can capture the hearts of all the members of the family. This phenomenon is seen with even the most renounced of people.
One of the most famous kings in history was Maharaja Janaka of Mithila. There was actually a long line of kings named Janaka, but the most famous one was the great transcendentalist and yogi who was the father-in-law of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Krishna who appeared during the Treta Yuga. The Valmiki Ramayana and Ramacharitamanasa make short references to Janaka’s reputation as a great yogi, but the Mahabharata goes into much greater detail. The incidents described in the Puranas, Mahabharata, and Ramayana are not simply mythological stories, but were actual events that took place during creations past, present, and future. For this reason, accounts of God and His pastimes are found not only in one book, but in many. Janaka was well renowned for his piety and his control over his senses. The fictional Star Wars movies put forth the idea of a force that one must possess, and how one should control their anger or otherwise risk turning over to the dark side. The Vedic teachings are similar except they enjoin that one should try to control the senses so that they can understand God better. The Lord resides within the hearts of every living entity through His Paramatma, or Supersoul feature. One who is a servant of the senses, godasa, cannot realize the Paramatma since they are guided by the senses seeking gratification. For one to properly see the Supersoul situated in the heart, one must become a gosvami, or master of the senses. Janaka had mastery over the senses, thus he was a perfect yogi and king.
Janaka was married but he didn’t have any children. One day while ploughing a field with the intention of performing a grand sacrifice, he found a little girl coming out of the earth. He immediately stopped ploughing, took the child in his lap. Instantly, a bond was formed. Since she was borne of the ground, Janaka named the girl Sita and immediately accepted her as his daughter. What he didn’t know was that Sita was an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, Lakshmiji. In the spiritual world, God doesn’t reside alone but rather in the company of His pure devotees. For His pleasure, the Lord accepts eternal consorts who serve as His energy. Goddess Lakshmi is the eternal consort of Lord Narayana, Krishna’s four-handed form. Her incarnation on earth coincided with Lord Rama’s appearance.
So we see that even though Janaka was a master of his senses, he nevertheless had an instant attachment for Sita. This may seem contradictory, but it isn’t. Sita Devi was the reward for all of Janaka’s pious deeds. One can imagine how great a soul he must have been to actually have someone as exalted as Sita Devi appear as his daughter. Sita was Janaka’s prized possession, and he made sure to raise her properly. Though she never attended school, she grew up to be wiser than the greatest of ascetics. This was due to the fact that Janaka and his wife would regularly entertain brahmanas in their kingdom. Sita attentively listened to the teachings of the brahmanas and her parents.
Herein we see how to make the most of the parent-child relationship. A parent should strive to be a pure devotee of God since that devotion will likely wear off on the children. Sita Devi actually didn’t require any of this education since she was a pure devotee by nature, but Janaka still set a good example. According to Vedic philosophy, birth, old age, disease, and death occur in an endless cycle for the spirit soul. This repeated cycle is known as samsara, since living in the material world can be a painful experience. Originally we are spirit souls part and parcel of God. This universe is sort of a prison house for the rebellious souls who want to pretend to be God themselves. So in this sense, taking birth here isn’t such a great thing.
On the other hand, taking birth as a human represents the soul’s greatest opportunity to escape from this endless cycle. If one is conscious of God at the time of death, then they never have to take birth again:
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Bg. 4.9)
Consciousness is something that develops over a long period of time, and even over many lifetimes. Our current body was actually developed based on the consciousness from our previous lives. Through every step we take and every move we make, we are working towards creating our next body. For one to think of God at the time of death, they must be trained in thinking about Him throughout their lifetime. There is no better time to start this training than from childhood. That is the true benefit of having children. A parent can perform the highest service by relieving their dependents of the miseries brought on by contact with material nature.
Janaka was a pure devotee of God and this was the quality he passed down to his children. He loved Sita so much that for her marriage, he arranged a svayamvara (self-choice ceremony) in his kingdom. Princes from around the world came to try to string Lord Shiva’s illustrious bow, but only Lord Rama was able to do it and thereby win Sita’s hand in marriage. Thus Janaka was further rewarded for his devotion by receiving God Himself as a son-in-law. When looking at their children, many parents get the feeling that they are seeing God. This is undoubtedly true as God is the origin of everything and the miracle of birth takes place through His direction. In Janaka’s case, his devotion brought both God and His pure devotee directly into his family in the form of Sita-Rama. Therefore we can conclude that by conceiving affection for Sita Devi and other pure devotees of God, we will have something very worthwhile to pass down to our children. By raising God conscious children, we too can see the Lord manifest Himself in our family and everywhere else.
Categories: glories of sita devi