“They remembered the guru as they went. The demigods rained down flowers and carpets were rolled out. Every kind of welcome was offered by Janaka to Dasharatha, as love overwhelmed his heart.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 16.1)
cale sumiri gura sura sumana baraṣahi pare bahubidhi pāvaḍe |
sanamāni saba bidhi janaka dasaratha kiye prema kanāvaḍe ||
It is the accepted custom to show hospitality to a guest. The guest is away from their home. That home may be many miles away or within just a short-distance, like next door, but still they are not in their comfortable environment. Therefore the host tries every which way possible to make the guest feel at home. It is just the polite thing to do. King Janaka a long time ago was indeed very polite, but based on the love he felt we know that his gestures were genuine; they went beyond mere protocol.
There were gestures made from above as well. First, the guest-party remembered the feet of their guru. Through his advice, the eldest prince Rama went to the forest with the venerable Vishvamitra Muni, a sage living in the forest at the time. The king, the father of Rama, did not want to let his son go. Rama was barely a teenager. Why should He go off and defend anyone at such a young age? Why should He be put into harm’s way? It wasn’t that Vishvamitra was asking that Rama be part of an army. He wasn’t asking for Rama to be trained up and then learn by following others on the job. No, Vishvamitra wanted Rama to be the sole defender against the wickedest creatures in the world. More than just fighting a lion or tiger with your bare hands, Rama was expected to use His bow and arrow to ward off creatures who were expert in black magic. These fiends had no qualms about killing innocent sages either. They would eat human flesh regularly, so fighting dirty was not an issue for them. The young Rama was expected to fend off these fighters all by Himself. Why would the father Dasharatha sanction that?
Unable to give a blanket denial, the king was first speechless. Then he tried persuading Vishvamitra in another direction. Finally, the guru Vashishtha advised Dasharatha to not fight it any longer. Vishvamitra knew what he was doing; he wasn’t making this request on a hunch. He knew that Rama would defend him. He also knew that Lakshmana, Rama’s devoted younger brother, would come along as well. And so Dasharatha reluctantly gave in.
And now here he is walking towards the marriage ceremony for his son Rama. This was the first time seeing Rama since He left home. A lot had happened in the meantime. Rama and Lakshmana cleared the worries of the sages in the forest by slaying wicked characters like Subahu and Tataka. They earned the favor of Vishvamitra, and through following him they ended up in King Janaka’s home. There Rama lifted the bow of Shiva and won the hand in marriage of Janaka’s daughter Sita. It was for the marriage occasion that Dasharatha and family were called from Ayodhya.
Dasharatha went from intense worry to unbridled joy. In his happiness it was not surprising that he remembered the guru, along with Lord Shiva, Parvati Devi, and their son Lord Ganesha. The demigods, for their part, were so thrilled that they started dropping flowers from the sky as Dasharatha approached the marriage ceremony. He was the chosen father of the Supreme Lord Rama, who had descended to earth to enact wonderful pastimes. The demigods are all devotees; they worship God. They know that He exists and they work at His direction. They don’t foolishly turn a blind eye towards the unexplainable phenomenon that is spirit. They don’t think that the sun and the moon came into existence on their own. They inquire into why things in nature work, rather than try to exploit its presence.
Devotion incorporates more than just knowledge. A sign of devotion is thrill and delight at the chance for others to take part in devotional acts. Though they were envious of the bliss felt by Dasharatha and the other wedding participants, the demigods still dropped flowers as a sign of honor. King Janaka rolled out the red carpet for his guests. He was so happy to get Rama as a son-in-law. Who better to protect his precious Sita? Dasharatha was the father, so all the accolades owned by Rama increased the king’s fame as well.
Welcoming his beloved guest, Janaka felt so much love in his heart. What a joy to get to see Dasharatha, a person who was famous for his defense of the demigods. His name was earned from his ability to fight chariots coming in the ten directions. He could fight them simultaneously. Though he was powerful, he too was very pious. Imagine having the best person in the world as your defender. Imagine that they are also unbeatable in battle. Wouldn’t that make you feel good? Wouldn’t you feel pleased to have the association of such a person?
Since Janaka felt love, the hospitality he offered was more than just a formality. It was a sincere offering directed to a wonderful family. And such an offering never goes in vain. We may try to make entreaties with our enemies just for the sake of getting along, but sometimes this approach doesn’t work. They may not want a resolution. In the famous Bharata war, Shri Krishna, who is the same God but in His original form, tried to negotiate a peace settlement with the Kauravas, but they would have none of it. They were set on ruling and wouldn’t budge unless they were physically forced to.
The result of making an offering to God is that love fills your heart. And wouldn’t you rather live with love? Hate eventually destroys everything in its path, while love builds lasting relationships. The eternal relationship is the connection to the Supreme Lord, which is every person’s birthright. Through devotional service, which includes kind offerings like the one made by Janaka, that relationship is reawakened. And through the love in the heart, the relationship only strengthens with the passage of time.
Love filling his heart fast,
In building relationship to last.
Like offering carpet that was red,
On flowers from sky king to tread.
This welcome from King Janaka came,
For Lord of Ayodhya, of Dasharatha the name.
Love to fill heart in the devotional state,
Builds lasting bond, no more room for hate.
Categories: janaki mangala