“Both family priests did the rituals according to the family traditions and the Vedas. Calling for the barata party, Janaka’s heart is full of joy.” (Janaki Mangala, 127)
beda bihita kularīti kīnhi duhum̐ kulagura |
paṭhaī boli barāta janaka pramudita mana ||
There is a God and He is for everyone. He is not the exclusive property of any sect. He does not only reside in one area of the world. He does not only hear prayers made in a specific language. His position is scientifically explained and at the same time His qualities are so great that they cannot be measured by any instrument. From the scientific aspect, we can understand that His properties involve laws, which apply to all situations. Just as the law of gravity does not take into account a person’s income, race, ethnicity, or level of intelligence, so the Supreme Lord’s presence is not dependent on any outside factor. At the same time, since our brains are limited, namely by the bounds of time and space, God is beyond our conception as well.
The family traditions help us to understand God to some degree. Complete understanding is impossible. Think about it for a second. If you had complete understanding, then you would know why you ended up being in a position to need complete understanding. After getting some knowledge, you could prevent yourself from needing complete understanding again. Ah, but there was a point where you needed complete understanding; therefore something must have happened previously. You’ll never be able to find that out, so therefore complete understanding is unavailable to you.
Just a slight understanding of God is good enough to make a huge impact. Take two people. Both have no clue how an automobile works. They don’t know what a carburetor is. They have no idea about how to change oil, check the fluid levels, or change a tire. They are clueless in car maintenance. One person knows how to drive the car while the other does not. Does this make a difference? Neither one has complete knowledge of the car, but one knows enough to be able to use the car. Therefore the more knowledgeable person is superior; they can get the best use out of the car.
In the same way, if we know a little about God, we can use that knowledge to better our lives. But that knowledge is difficult to come by. Starting from the time of birth, our perception leads us to think that there is no God. Our parents take care of us and then our teachers instruct us. In adulthood we act seemingly independently and see the results of that independent action. Therefore we think that we are the sole cause to the consequences. If we eat right, we’ll change the way our body looks. If we read, we’ll get smarter. If we relax a little, our stress levels will go down. Therefore everything is in our hands.
In actuality, in every result there is a higher authority who gives sanction. We need to eat, but where does the food come from? Does the government create it? Does the farmer generate it? Actually, without nature’s arrangement, the farmer could not grow food. He needs nature to provide the earth, water and sunlight. And where do these things come from? It is easy to say God, but how do we know who He is? How will we even know to be conscious of the divine presence?
This is where family traditions come in. Purificatory rites start from the time of birth in all traditions. Whether the family knows the purpose to the rites isn’t so important; as the attention creates a foundational culture. At least there is the consciousness of a higher power, the recognition that not everything is solely within one’s control.
In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, we are reminded of the importance of family traditions. In this instance, there is no insistence that one family’s tradition is superior to another’s. Mind you, the families joining were both very pious and respected. They also belonged to the same Vedic culture, which is the original spiritual tradition of the world. The Vedas have no date of inception; they come from God, who spoke the truths at the beginning of known time. They existed prior to that as well; hence religion in the Vedic definition is known as sanatana-dharma, or the eternal occupation of man.
The daughter of King Janaka was marrying the eldest son of King Dasharatha. Janaka lived in Tirahuta and Dasharatha in Ayodhya. Each family had their specific ancestry and related traditions. They each also had their own priests. Here the priests are performing the rituals according to the Vedas and family tradition. Why not just rely on the Vedas? Well, it was the family tradition that led to the current situation. The attention to the tradition was a sign of respect. Neither party insisted that their family tradition was the only way.
Know that there are many paths to God, but the key in determining whether following a tradition is successful or not is to see if there is love for God. Without this love, the rituals are essentially a waste of time. The litmus test for love of God also gives a way to spot cheating religions and bogus religious acts. Blowing up innocent women and children in the name of God is not a religious act. It is pure ignorance. Such a tradition is not legitimate at all; it is a mental concoction.
The rituals performed by the two families here were not drawn up on a whim. They had been performed since time immemorial. When Janaka called in the barata party, he had so much joy in his heart. This meant that he had love for God, as Dasharatha’s family had an incarnation of God as their jewel. Rama was marrying Sita, so the wedding here involved the union of the Supreme Lord with His eternal consort, His energy. Sita and Rama are always together, but sometimes they go through a marriage ceremony in the earthly realm to give pleasure to others.
The culmination of all religious traditions is bhakti-yoga. This is the original consciousness of the soul, to love God all the time. The traditions in Dasharatha’s family allowed the Supreme Lord to appear there, and in Janaka’s family the result was the appearance of the goddess of fortune. In this age of Kali, where so many traditions are vanishing or are completely lost, an easy tradition to create is the chanting of the holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” Chanting this mantra is so potent that one doesn’t have to wait many generations to see the Supreme Lord in their family. The name itself is non-different from Him, making this chanting the best tradition to introduce and maintain.
Some with different name do call,
But know for sure that God is for all.
True to family tradition to stay,
So gradually know God you may.
One tradition not any better,
Respect to have for also the other.
In marriage of Sita and Rama ceremony,
Rites of priest done according to family.
In today’s time start tradition of holy names to say,
You and future generations in divine nature to stay.
Categories: janaki mangala