That Sound Around the Corner

Celebrating Sita and Rama“Playing the drums and sounding the auspiciousness and goodness of the occasion, they were getting close to Sita’s native city of Janakpur.” (Janaki Mangala, 120)

bājahiṃ ḍhola nisāna saguna subha pāinhi |
si naihara janakaura nagara niyarāinhi ||

When you’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of someone else, you can’t help but look out the window or wait by the phone. Any indication of their approach will make you even more excited than you already are. In Janakpur a long time ago, the indication of the arrival of anticipated guests was the beautiful sound of drums, which also sounded to mark the auspiciousness of the occasion. And auspicious it would be, as news of Sita and Rama’s marriage would quickly spread throughout the world.

“I have heard, O Sita, that your hand in marriage was won by the renowned Raghava on the occasion of the self-choice ceremony [svayamvara]. O Maithili, I wish to hear that story in detail. Therefore please narrate to me the entire sequence of events as you experienced them.” (Anasuya speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.24-25)

Anasuya meeting SitaAnasuya, whose name means one who is not envious, many years later asked Sita, the bride, to describe the details of her marriage. Anasuya already knew these details, but since the event was so glorious, more auspicious than any other occasion, she wanted to hear the story again, this time from Sita, who was a key participant. Anasuya lived during a time where there was no radio or television. Newspapers did not exist, and there was no easy way to broadcast messages to a large population dispersed thousands of miles apart. She lived in a hermitage with her husband, Atri Rishi, and they one day had the good fortune of meeting Sita and Rama.

She knew of the story prior because news of God always manages to spread. That is because it is the most auspicious news, information that never becomes old or stale. Today’s newspaper is discarded once tomorrow’s is released. If the newspaper had valuable information, it wouldn’t be tossed aside so quickly. Even the clothes we wear have a longer shelf-life. Yet the newspaper’s temporary value is what makes it intriguing in the first place. Real news that will have a meaningful impact isn’t so sought after. It is not until one has exhausted all of their material desires that they truly take an interest in that which goes beyond birth and death.

Bhagavad-gita, 7.28“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)

Imagine then how qualified one must be to actually participate in the events that generate the headlines that remain relevant millions of years into the future. The people of Janakpur were all pious souls during this particular time period. They relished Sita’s wedding. She was the daughter of the king, Janaka, and the king was loved and respected by all, as was Sita. She was marrying the right man; someone who had no blemishes. If there were any negative aspects to Rama’s image, it was in the worry His seemingly contradictory features caused. How can a flower penetrate through steel? How can a youthful body with delicate features display immense strength? This caused worry in the citizens because they wanted Rama to win the contest that would determine Sita’s husband. That worry quickly turned to felicity when Rama effortlessly lifted the bow. This was the mark of strength required to win the contest drawn up by Janaka.

Rama lifting the bowIn the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, the bridegroom’s party is approaching Janaka’s city, where the wedding will be held. Rama’s family was from Ayodhya, and when the people there heard what had happened, they were thrilled as well. King Dasharatha, Rama’s father, stopped everything to give full attention to the wedding. The parties arrived in typical fashion, with elephants and loud drums letting everyone know of their arrival.

If you’re stuck at home without any car to take to go to the place you need to go, you will anticipate the time that the car returns. Perhaps a family member has taken it without your permission. Perhaps they told you they would return at a certain point in time and they then were running late. Instead of just waiting patiently, you’ll likely peep out the window, trying to edge your face against the glass so that you can see as far down the street as possible. This way you’ll know right away when they are about to come home. Every car you see gives you hope, but not until it is the car you’re looking for do you feel happy.

Marriage ceremony of Sita and RamaThe people in Janakpur were just as anxious, except they were waiting for Shri Rama’s family. In this way they had an eagerness to see God and share in His triumphs. Such desires never go unmet. Holding the same desires today will get you association with the same event. Physical separation is of no issue and neither is the long gap in time. Shri Rama, as the Supreme Lord, is timeless, and so are His events. His name, form, qualities and pastimes also extend to all of humanity, to every single person, irrespective of their religious tradition inherited at the time of birth. Men, women, children, priests, servants, and royalty alike heard the sound around the corner of Rama’s family arriving, and with that sound their excitement grew even further.

Similar sounds are generated today by those who are devoted to the same Rama. He is also known as Krishna in His original form, and Sita is addressed as Hare, for she represents the Supreme Lord’s energy. Devotees play mrdangas and kartalas, and chant the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” to give everyone the good news that the Supreme Lord has arrived on the scene. Though He is all-pervading, we can’t recognize His presence unless our consciousness is pure. Hearing of Him is the most effective way to clear consciousness of all dirty things. Hearing of Him is also a way to directly connect with Him. Thus one who hears these sounds, which are non-different from the Lord, knows that auspiciousness is right around the corner, like it was in Janakpur a long time ago.

In Closing:

Coming from that corner around,

What is that most auspicious sound?

 

Karatalas and beating of drum,

Many arriving in jubilant fun.

 

Rama and His family it must be,

Their blessed faces we can’t wait to see.

 

Hand of Sita in marriage the Lord to take,

Memorable forever this day to make.

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