The Ornament of Ornaments

ornaments on Shri Rama“He put the wedding ornaments on Rama, who is the ornament of ornaments. The lotus that was the eyes of the world bloomed at the sight of Him, who is the sun.” (Janaki Mangala, 124)

byāha bibhūṣana bhūṣita bhūṣana bhūṣana |
bisva bilocana banaja bikāsaka pūṣana ||

“Everyone else in this room worships Him. They bow down as soon as the curtains open. They repeat these Sanskrit verses while their heads are on the ground, and they then rise and sing in ecstasy. They tell me that this chanting is the best way for self-realization in the modern age. They hail the glories of their spiritual master, speaking endlessly about the need to preach and how so many others need to be saved from the pitfalls of material life. Despite their sincerity, for some reason I just don’t want to go along. I don’t want to be like a sheep. I’m an individual, why should I follow everyone else?”

This attitude is only natural, as when we see so many others doing a particular thing, there is one of two reactions. One is to follow the pack. Join in with everyone else. In the path of least resistance, you’re not making any waves; you’re going with the flow. The other option is rebellion. Do something different just because. You’re an individual, so you think for yourself. You don’t have to follow what everyone else says. You make up your own mind. From the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we see that real devotion to God is constitutionally sound. It is part of us. Whether we are the only ones following that devotion or part of a group that includes the entire world, the reaction is still instinctual. The object of devotion is so important to us that what others do is of no concern.

Lotus flowersHow does the verse above convey this message? It is done through the analogy to the lotus flower. The lotus flower is the symbol of beauty. It comes from nature. The most brilliant artist in the world could not conjure it up on their own. Indeed, in painting beautiful pictures, one can include one or many such flowers to enhance the image; the lotus is that beautiful.

Though its beauty is naturally occurring, there are different looks to the flower. Just as we may not appear our best in the morning right after waking up, the lotus flower isn’t as wonderful to look at when it is closed up. You don’t need to pry the petals open, though. You don’t need to chant a sacred formula to get it to open its eyes. This occurs naturally as soon as the sun comes out. Then the flower looks even more wonderful. It is like when we fully cleanse ourselves and then put on ornaments. This process is mechanical, while the transformation for the lotus flower is automatic. It is spontaneous and also without flaws. A machine may turn on properly for one hundred consecutive days and then suddenly fail, but the lotus flower will always sprout open when it sees the sun.

The flower doesn’t look at other flowers to see if they are opening up too. Its relationship to the sun is not changed by the relationship other flowers have to the same sun. The love is pure. Without the sun, the flower will not open up. It will not reveal all its glory; it waits until the sun shines its light. If the entire garden is full of lotus flowers, each flower will still hold dear its relationship to the sun.

Lord RamaThe same holds true for all of us in our constitutional relationship to the Supreme Lord. In the scene of the verse quoted above, Shri Ramachandra, God in His avatara as a beautiful warrior prince, is being seen after His father has placed wonderful wedding ornaments on Him. Lord Rama is about to get married to the princess of Videha, Sita Devi. King Dasharatha of Ayodhya has arrived to witness the marriage ceremony of his son. The good king is also a vital participant, making sure everything from the groom’s side is done properly.

Shri Rama is described to be the ornament of ornaments. He is Himself an object of beautification. Put Him in your mind and your mind will always be pure. Put His presence in your food and you will never eat sin. Put the sound of His holy names on your tongue and what you say will always be pure as well. And that supremely pure object was being decorated by His loving father. Power, beauty and fame can quickly go to our head, causing us to be puffed up with pride. From the Supreme Lord’s example, we see that loving service from others should be allowed in any situation. No one is too big to be loved by their parents.

The eyes of the world opened up at the sight of Rama. He is compared to the sun. His family ancestry also traced to the sun-god, Vivasvan. Here the eyes of the world are like a lotus flower. They didn’t care what others were thinking. They didn’t care if everyone else was taken by Rama as well. Each individual was supremely delighted to see Rama dressed up in such a way. They were so happy to see Him about to marry the daughter of the pious King Janaka.

In Closing:

“To worship God others to me to say,

But why like sheep to follow their way?

 

The truth for myself like to find,

Rather prefer to make my own mind.”

 

In devotion to God for others not a care,

For Supreme Lord natural affection is there.

 

Comparison made to lotus flower sight,

And how it opens at sun shining bright.

 

Vision of Rama with ornaments world took,

Like lotus petals opened wide upon first look.

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