“Sita and Rama both are looking so beautiful that the atmosphere is very nice, like a youthful king bringing to the people a vision that they want.” (Janaki Mangala, 86)
rāma sīya baya samau subhāya suhāvana |
nṛpa jobana chabi purai cahata janu āvana ||
This was a contest with spectators after all. Spectators are pleased with a spectacle, especially if it gives pleasure to their eyes. If the spectacle relates to an image that remains within the mind, giving the individual a source of pleasure going forward, then it is all the better. Such an image was created when Rama and Sita were looked at simultaneously. The pairing was perfect, and so the scene looked as if a youthful king had brought to the town a perfect image that everyone wanted.
What image did the people want? How can we tell that? Don’t desires change all the time? One second I want pizza and the next I want ice cream. One day I love playing baseball and the next I never want to play it again. This is the nature of a material existence; to hanker and lament. The mind hankers after something, and if it doesn’t get it lamentation follows. Even if you do get what you want, your hankerings will not stop. And since not all hankerings can be met, lamentation will surely follow.
The unmarried man in his youth wants to get married. “Why can’t I get a wife? I just want someone to love. I will be so faithful to her. I will treat her so well. Because of my love for her people will say that I am the best husband. Others are married, and they don’t know how lucky they are. I might just have to go it alone my whole life. I will never meet the right person.”
The seasoned veteran of marriage will have a different take. “When will I have my freedom? Every day she nags me about this and that. Wherever I go, there she is. Anytime I want to go anywhere, I have to check with her first. I can’t even sit and watch television in peace. This is my home too, you know. I should be able to feel comfortable here. These single guys have no idea how good they have it. I would kill to have that freedom again.”
“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)
Hankering and lamenting continue until one is Brahman realized. Brahman is the all-pervading spiritual energy, the impersonal force that ties us all together. We are all part of Brahman, which is truth. This is difficult to perceive because of the variation in outward appearance. We make classifications based on this variation, and with each differentiation we get further away from the realization of Brahman.
One way to become Brahman realized is to abandon attachment to the sense objects. Basically, deprive yourself of whatever you tell yourself you want. Limit your eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Study the Vedas, which describe the differences between matter and spirit in great detail. Stay focused on the Absolute Truth through your work, and one day you’ll become detached.
An easier way, which actually leads to a better end, is to have devotion to God directly. He is the source of Brahman, so if you connect with Him, you’ll not only see the oneness shared between all the species, you’ll also feel a higher pleasure. This was the case in Janakpur many thousands of years ago. The people of the town weren’t acknowledged Vedantists. They weren’t considered Brahman realized. On the contrary, on the surface it seemed like they were way too invested in the outcome of a single event, the marriage of the king’s daughter Sita.
They wanted Sita to marry a handsome and chivalrous prince. She deserved such a husband, as she was beautiful in every way and dedicated to the rules of propriety. Her marriage event was a contest, wherein princes from around the world would try to lift an enormously heavy bow belonging to Lord Shiva. The first one to lift it would win and thus get to marry Sita.
When the people saw Shri Rama, a handsome youth accompanied by His younger brother Lakshmana and the sage Vishvamitra, they wanted Him to win. They also saw the way Rama and Sita looked at each other, and this created a wonderful atmosphere. It was the perfect setting; everything was auspicious. It looked like a young king had arranged for the picture, creating a town that was perfect.
This was not ordinary hankering within the people. A Brahman realized soul can take the next step to devotion to God, as is pointed out by Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita [18.54]. Krishna is God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in fact. Rama is the same Krishna but in a different visible manifestation. The manifestations are described in the Vedic texts; they are not concocted on a whim. People didn’t just see someone special and then proclaim them to be God. In fact, the people in Janakpur did not know Rama’s divinity. This ignorance helped their devotion, keeping it more genuine.
It should also be known that someone who reaches the platform of bhakti, or pure love for God, has already done the legwork in the past at some point. They satisfied the obligations pertaining to mundane piety, and they understood the Brahman energy as a result, even if they may not remember doing so. Therefore the hankerings of the people with respect to Sita and Rama getting married were not ordinary. They were spiritual emotions tied to a result that would never be forgotten.
That beautiful picture is still remembered to this day, showing that nothing about the event was material. Matter is dull, lifeless, and ever changing. Spirit is eternal, immutable, and imperishable. The spiritual event of Sita and Rama’s meeting is celebrated by the wonderful saints like Goswami Tulsidas, who in their storytelling carefully lead the listener to the wonderful conclusion, the blessed marriage itself.
How a perfect image a king can make?
What ingredients in his hands to take?
Bring perfect bride and groom if he could,
Whose love for each other all understood.
Sita and Rama prior to marriage so pretty a scene,
That a young prince had created picture it seemed.
To have them wed not a material hankering,
Memory of their blessed event forever lingering.
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