“King Dasharatha worshiped Vishvamitra and gave charity to the brahmanas. For the sake of Rama’s great auspiciousness, he performed all the auspicious rites.” (Janaki Mangala, 123)
rāyam̐ kausikahi pūji dāna bipranha die |
rāma sumangala hetu sakala mangala kie ||
“O my child, you are so precious. You look so innocent today. How will you remain safe? You can barely keep together just laying down. Someone has to hold your head when they pick you up. They have to feed you when you get hungry and clean you when the time is right. Still, I have never been happier than today. I will love you with all my heart. You are my life now. I vow to protect you until my dying day. I will do whatever it takes to make your life successful.”
There’s no doubt that becoming a father changes a person. The miracle of birth brings newfound feelings of protection and caretaking. In the case of a famous king a long time ago, the fruit of his eyes was received with his new son. This son would one day take over the throne. It was the son who almost never arrived, as the king had been childless for so long. As soon as the child emerged from the womb of the eldest queen, the king vowed to protect Him for the rest of His life. And he most certainly did, though the child required not this protection. The king kept his son on his mind until his very dying day, bringing the most auspicious end to life.
“But I’ve heard from the Vedas that having attachments is bad. This information is found in the Bhagavad-gita, which is the scripture most often used for lecturing by swamis and panditas. You’re not supposed to be attached. You’re supposed to carry out your work as a matter of fact, out of obligation. Whatever the results may be, you should not mind them. This way your consciousness will be clear. If this king was so attached to his son, isn’t that a bad thing?”
“Be steadfast in yoga, O Arjuna. Perform your duty and abandon all attachment to success or failure. Such evenness of mind is called yoga.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.48)
Attachment and aversion will always be there. Let’s say that I read the verses from the Bhagavad-gita, a Vedic song originally put into written word some five thousand years ago but whose truths are eternally relevant, that describe the need to stay detached from outcomes and I take them to heart. “Okay, from now on I will not sweat the small stuff so much. From this Gita I understand that the body identifies neither me nor anyone else. The soul inside is our essence. Just as the central processing unit is what gives life to the computer, without the soul no being can be considered alive. I will not be so concerned with birth and death, because such things are only temporary, like the rising and setting of the sun. I will follow my work without attachment. I will stay level-headed. The speaker of the Gita, Shri Krishna, says that one who follows this path is very dear to Him. As He is the origin of matter and spirit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, being dear to Him should be to my benefit.”
“One who neither grasps pleasure or grief, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things, is very dear to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 12.17)
Ah, but even in this situation there is an attachment. Namely, it is to the principle of staying detached. Seems like circular logic, but it is nevertheless true. If I constantly tell myself to stay detached, and then I get upset when I become attached to something, that strict adherence to the principle is itself an attachment. So in this sense there is always some attachment and aversion. The principles put forth in the Bhagavad-gita apply specifically to karma, or work that has a material effect. Material means the body and not the soul. Thus to have attachment to work that benefits the soul does not violate the principles of the Gita.
“Okay, but this king was attached to his son. The son is just a bodily relation. The soul can appear in any family. There is nothing really special then about this relation or that. Why was the king taken in by maya, then, which is the illusory energy that covers the spiritual presence in the eyes of the conditioned souls?”
This king’s son was the very same Krishna. That is why His appearance in the king’s family was the happiest day in the life of the king. And that is why thinking of this son was the best ending to the king’s life. The king was named Dasharatha and his eldest son Rama. Rama is a name for God and also a way to reference the personality who appeared as King Dasharatha’s eldest son. Rama is a genuine incarnation of God, not one created on a whim. He was not assigned deity status after His time on earth. He was God before, during and after the events of the famous Ramayana.
In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we get further details on the nature of Dasharatha and his affection for Rama. The scene here is Rama’s marriage to the eldest daughter of King Janaka. Dasharatha pays obeisance to the spiritual guide Vishvamitra. The king was very powerful. His name means one who can fight ten chariots simultaneously. The chariots come from the ten different directions, and he can battle them all. Thus he was a superior fighter, and therefore perfectly eligible to rule over the wonderful kingdom in Ayodhya.
And yet Dasharatha still bowed down and worshiped someone who had nothing. Vishvamitra was not a fighter. He called the remote wilderness his home. Still, the sage’s strength was so great because of his devotion to God. He was a brahmana, or priest, and so he could guide everyone in society. The king protected and the priest guided. Vishvamitra also had a major hand in making this marriage a reality. He had previously taken Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana with him to the forest. He wanted the boys to protect all the sages from the attacks of wicked night-rangers. The brothers were mere teenagers at the time, and yet Vishvamitra knew that no one could defeat them in battle. They made the sages proud as well as the father Dasharatha. It was no surprise that a king who could fight ten chariots would have sons who could fight ghoulish creatures who could change their shapes at will.
Dasharatha also gave in charity to the brahmanas who were there. Under ideal circumstances, the priests don’t work for a living. They don’t need much to survive, and whatever they need is provided by society. Giving charity to brahmanas by quality and occupation is the only legitimate form of charity. It yields the best results in the future. Dasharatha did all the auspicious rites, all for the sake of Rama’s auspiciousness. He wanted everything to go right for his son. If he had to, the king would give up his own life for Rama’s welfare.
That same dedication would be there in his son, who would renounce the throne and live in the wilderness for fourteen years just to save the honor of His father. Thus there was mutual adoration. The level of affection between father and son could not be measured. From this we understand that Rama was a fit son for Dasharatha and Dasharatha the most worthy father. Here he protected Rama by performing the auspicious rites.
Dasharatha was a famous king with access to great wealth to give in charity, but any person can perform similar rites to effect the same purpose. Rama is God, so He doesn’t require protection, but if one tries to offer it anyway, who is He to reject it? In fact, such an offering will make Him so pleased that He will guarantee that person’s protection in the future. He does this by staying within their mind, which is the best way to live. The most auspicious rite for the present age is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” which brings supreme auspiciousness to both Rama and all those associated with Him.
Worship of guru and charity he gave,
King in the proper way did behave.
So that all auspiciousness would come,
For Shri Rama, his most precious son.
Not in maya upon closer examination,
Spiritual was king’s determination.
To protect God is desire the best,
Wish granted, king eternally blessed.
Categories: janaki mangala