A Welcoming King

King Janaka“Taking Rama with him, the son of Gadhi became happy in the heart when he saw the city. Hearing the news of their arrival, the king, bringing his advisers, guru and priests, comes to welcome them.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 5.1)

lai gayau rāmahi gādhi suvana biloki pura haraṣe hiem̐ |
suni rāu āge lena āyau saciva gura bhūsura liem̐ ||

The pattern of behavior exhibited by the noble characters stays consistent throughout these meetings from an ancient time. First there was the dilemma faced by King Janaka. Having found his most beautiful daughter while she was in the earth as a baby, the king had to arrange for her marriage to a suitable husband when she reached the appropriate age. The astrological charts could not be made because of the circumstances of her birth, thus the king couldn’t settle upon the right way to ensure that she got the husband that she deserved. So he decided to ask his chief counselors, the brahmanas, to devise a plan to settle the situation. As this was going on, in another place King Dasharatha greeted the brahmana Vishvamitra very nicely when he came to Ayodhya to borrow Lord Rama as an escort. The king hesitatingly agreed to allow his eldest son Rama to leave, who took the younger brother Lakshmana with Him. Now the story returns to Janakpur, with the same deference to the priestly class again shown by Janaka.

Why so much attention to members of society who practice religion? Don’t we see so many stories in the news today detailing the faults of priests and how they are cheating the system to get what they want? The key in determining the genuineness of a man of the cloth is to see how their recommendations affect your life. The kings of ancient times earned their high standing through sometimes exercising violence. Through force, or at least the threat of it, peace, law and order could be maintained. But there is more to life than just having food to eat and a roof over the head. The animals find the creature comforts without requiring education or university degrees. They eat without a problem, sleep when necessary, and get ample sex life whenever they desire it.

“As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man’s intelligence.”  (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.67)

Krishna speaking to ArjunaThe human being needs more, especially due to the influence of the mind and the senses. The mind focused on just one of the senses will carry away the intelligence of even the most sober thinking individual. Therefore, in order to control the mind, to keep it in a good place, pure activities should be adopted. If I want to stay happy all the time and someone recommends that I watch the television news channels throughout the day, obviously my pleasant mental disposition will not last very long. If I want to take a long drive somewhere, carrying passengers and important cargo, drinking heavily will not be a wise preparatory step.

In a similar manner, if the human being wants to make the most out of the human form of life, seeking out basic sense gratification is not the proper path to follow. The brahmanas remove the doubt in this area through their good counsel. The king has so many responsibilities, so without advisers they wouldn’t know what to do. By acting properly, by following guiding principles that lead to better conditions, righteous behavior becomes almost automatic.

Because of their value, the brahmanas were treated very nicely during the Treta Yuga by the kings. When Janaka saw that Vishvamitra, Rama and Lakshmana had arrived, he happily greeted them, taking the brahmanas of the court with him. Janaka wasn’t sitting at home bored either. The compromise previously reached relating to his daughter’s wedding was that a contest would be held. All the famous princes from around the world would bring their families to Janakpur to witness the contest of Lord Shiva’s bow.

Whoever could lift that bow would win the daughter Sita’s hand in marriage. Previously in the Janaki Mangala, which is a wonderful poem authored by Goswami Tulsidas that describes these events, it was said that the line of kings entering Janakpur for the contest was tremendous. Lord Shiva’s bow was extremely heavy, so no one was getting anywhere in the contest. One after another, the princes were coming and then sitting back down as failures. While this was going on, King Janaka was welcoming so many people that other kings were jealous of how popular he was.

As would be expected, Janaka took the time to properly greet the sons of Dasharatha and their spiritual guide Vishvamitra. It is said in the above referenced verse that Vishvamitra was also very happy in the heart upon seeing Janaka’s capital city. Just as everything about God is wonderful, so is everything related to His dearmost servants and companions. Sita is together with Rama always. During the performance of the real-life play known as the Ramayana, the two spend some time apart physically, but mentally and emotionally they are always together.

Sita and RamaThe Supreme Lord’s energy pervades through space. He is absolute, so with Him close personal proximity and physical separation are the same. To the affected conditioned individual there is a distinction, but this is due to a poor fund of knowledge, illusion strengthened by attachment to a form that is temporary. Since God is capable of granting His association even when not personally present, chanting the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”, can bring to mind the sweetheart son of King Dasharatha who was set to marry Sita.

Sita Devi is just as glorious as Rama. The daughter of King Janaka deserved the grand ceremony and the contest to determine her nuptials. With that event so many people of the time got to witness history and receive the fruit of their eyes. The eyes are meant to look at beautiful things and derive pleasure from those visions. No woman on earth has ever been more beautiful than Sita, and no one was more qualified for marrying her than Rama. Thus the meeting of the two was a feast for the eyes. That joyousness also extended to the moments prior to the actual lifting of Shiva’s bow by Rama.

The dichotomy in arrival fanfares made the above referenced situation unique. The many princes that had come to lift the bow arrived in style, for they were royal families. They packed up the caravans with royal paraphernalia and brought along so many members of their family. In King Dasharatha’s case, his eldest son, the one first eligible for marriage, was away from home defending the forest-dwelling sages from attacking night-rangers. These vile creatures had harassed the brahmanas for too long, and with Rama and Lakshmana by his side, Vishvamitra and the other sadhus were safe. The sadhus could once again peacefully carry out their prescribed duties once Rama arrived on the scene. Seeing Him enter the ashrama of the great muni brought so much delight to the residents of the forest.

Vishvamitra was already in a renounced garb, and Rama and Lakshmana didn’t have much with them except their weapons. Yet Janaka greeted them so nicely anyway, for Vishvamitra was famous throughout the world for his austerities and spiritual strength. Seeing Rama and Lakshmana, Janaka would be mesmerized. He was dedicated to his occupational duties, but he was not attached to the outcome of actions. It is said in the Bhagavad-gita that one has a right to carry out their prescribed duties, but they are not entitled to enjoy the fruits that result.

“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.”  (Lord Krishna, Bg. 2.47)

Lord KrishnaAn extension of this truth is that one should not be attached to the outcome of events, for the higher forces are responsible for distributing results in a fair and timely manner. All that you can control is the effort you put in and the attention you give to righteousness. Even if you do everything the right way, the outcome will not always be what is expected. From the proper attitude, one learns how to stay above attraction and aversion. Janaka was in this exalted position, and he was famous throughout the world for being an expert yogi. Yet seeing Rama and Lakshmana broke his neutral stance, as had also previously happened when Sita as a baby was found in the ground.

This shows that the spiritual qualities are not void. They are full of variety and can elicit positive emotional responses within the target recipients. At the same time, the beneficiaries must be worthy of that association. We can look at the same flower every day and not appreciate it if our mind is elsewhere, if we are distracted by obligations that don’t really mean much. But with a sober mind, with a proper understanding of the beauty of nature and how wonderful this creation is, the flower can all of a sudden be appreciated and used to please the eyes.

Janaka’s neutral disposition and high moral standing made him eligible for enjoying the transcendental sweetness of the visions of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. Though this entering party did not have the fanfare of the other royal families, Janaka knew they were something special. At the request of the son of Gadhi, Rama would be allowed to attempt to lift the bow and thereby change the course of history. That divine couple, Sita and Rama, married in the company of Janaka, Vishvamitra, Lakshmana and so many other worshipable personalities, resides in the hearts of the sincere devotees who never want to forget them for even a second. Sita and Rama also stay in the heart of the poet Tulsidas, who sings their glories and helps to make sure others know of them too.

In Closing:

Historic union of Sita and Rama not to miss,

Fortunate who could see start of their wedded bliss.


To take place, so many events had to unfold,

Vishvamitra to Ayodhya, Janaka a contest to hold.


Regardless of place, behavior followed same pattern,

Respect shown to brahmanas, who fire of yajna burn.


With Rama and Lakshmana to Janakpur came Gadhi’s son,

With his priests and advisers, Janaka gave them a welcome.


Soon eldest son of Dasharatha Shiva’s bow to lift,

His marriage to Sita to eyes of attendees priceless gift.

Categories: janaki mangala

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