Staying in the Background

Lakshmi and Parvati“Hearing this, Parvati, Lakshmi and the wives of the demigods became very happy. After disguising themselves as ordinary women, they went to the mandapa.” (Janaki Mangala, 131)

umā ramādika suratiya suni pramudita bhaī  |
kapaṭa nāri bara beṣa biraca manḍama gaī ||

“Hey, nice to see you. It’s been so long. Where have you been? Have you been hiding? We’ve been here every week and we haven’t seen you. We missed you. Tell us all about what you’ve been doing. Why haven’t you been showing up? Is your job stressing you out? Is it something that we said? Did you get into an argument with someone over here? Whatever it is, we are so glad that you are back. Now hopefully we will see you all the time.”

When a major event is going down, it’s sometimes nice to just blend into the background. This way no one will bother you. You will get to enjoy the event, soaking in all the precious moments. Think of it like being a celebrity who attends a big game in sports. You want to watch the game. You don’t necessarily want the attention. There is nothing you can do, however, as everyone will recognize you. In Janakpur a long time ago, celestials were anxious to attend a blessed event, to get up close to see and hear what was going on. Knowing that they would be recognized and thus garner attention, they decided to disguise themselves.

Presidential motorcadeWhen the President of the United States goes anywhere, he needs the entire security detail to accompany him. If he’s in New York City to give an address at the United Nations, so many streets are closed to accommodate his travel. If he is going to attend a sporting event, the security team needs to check out the area beforehand. He doesn’t walk in like an ordinary person. Presidents in the past have sometimes avoided attending certain events precisely because they didn’t want to take any attention away from the main participants. They didn’t want to steal the glory for themselves.

If the event is of greater significance, like a marriage or a religious observance, you don’t want to turn it into a social event. At least you don’t want that to be the most important thing. You don’t want to have to socialize while everything is going down. Maybe afterwards, in order to not appear rude, you will talk to various people. You will meet up with your friends. You will maybe make new friends while mingling. During the event, however, you’re there to experience everything. That’s the reason you attended.

“Lord Shiva is the husband of Durga, the controller of the material energy. Durga is personified material energy, and Lord Shiva, being her husband, is the controller of the material energy. He is also the incarnation of the mode of ignorance and one of the three deities representing the Supreme Lord. As His representative, Lord Shiva is identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.14.29 Purport)

For Parvati Devi and Lakshmi Devi, there was no way to attend a famous event without getting spotted. Both of them are worshiped figures of the Vedic tradition. Parvati is the beloved wife of Lord Shiva. Another one of her names is Durga, which means difficult to overcome. She manages the material creation, and her husband is charged with destroying it at the appropriate time. Through her various forms she is worshiped for so many different things, all of them relating to material life. She makes the difficult stay in the material land a little less painful, temporarily, for those who worship her. Thus if anyone sees her, they will immediately honor her and seek a benediction.

Lakshmi-NarayanaLakshmi Devi is the goddess of fortune. The fortune belongs to her husband, Narayana, who is a non-different expansion of the Supreme Lord. Lakshmi manages that fortune for Him. She liberally distributes it to those who worship her. The fortune is to be used for pleasing Narayana. Any other use is a misuse. She would have the same problem as Parvati if she were to attend the famous event. People would ask her for fortune.

There are many demigods, who are godly personalities but not quite the Supreme Lord Himself. They have their wives, who are thus goddesses. Any of these goddesses appearing at this famous event would draw some type of attention. That is not what any of them wanted. They heard the singing of auspicious songs from above. That sound drew them towards the ceremony.

The auspiciousness related to Sita’s marriage. For this reason, the work that describes these events is known as the Janaki Mangala, or the most auspicious occasion for the daughter of King Janaka. She was known as Sita, and is considered an incarnation of Lakshmi. From this verse Goswami Tulsidas tells us that Sita is more than Lakshmi, though she is non-different from her. Lakshmi herself is drawn to attend Sita’s marriage. In the same way, although Narayana is the same Rama, still Narayana is interested to see Rama’s marriage to Sita. In the spiritual world, such differences are not contradictory, while in the material sphere they are difficult to comprehend.

Narayana dropping flowers at weddingLakshmi, Parvati and the wives of the demigods decided to go in disguise. They would look just like the other women in the mandapa, which was the structure under which the marriage was to take place. In addition to allowing them to enjoy the festivities without being bothered, this masking was also a kind act. The women that were already there weren’t upstaged in beauty by Lakshmi and Parvati, who are beautiful beyond compare. If the two goddesses appeared as is, they would outshine all the other women. Thus we see how kind and respectful Lakshmi, Parvati and the wives of the demigods are.

They were drawn in by the singing of auspicious songs, and their interest was maintained by seeing Sita wed Rama. No one bothered them at the time, and afterwards they were able to go back to their posts as worshipable figures. They got to see the beautiful Sita, who was without flaw. They got to see the lovely Rama, who was perfect for Sita in every way. They got to see the pure-hearted residents of Janakpur rejoice in the day soon to be known as their favorite.

Sita and RamaThey stayed in the background so that nothing could break their focus. Their behavior reveals what is most important to them. They are of the godly nature, and they are powerful as well. They grant wonderful benedictions that the mind can’t even fathom. And yet to them none of these benedictions are important. These personalities are not puffed up by having so many worshipers, either. They simply enjoy seeing and hearing about God and His eternal consort. From their attendance at the wedding they also showed great intelligence in figuring out how to allow that worship to continue. From their behavior we learn the true meaning of life: to be immersed in the devotional consciousness.

In Closing:

When important event to attend,

Desire not participants to offend,


When others their vision to take,

Immediately some obeisances to make.


Parvati, Lakshmi and wives thus came,

But disguised, not with vision the same.


Enjoyed the marriage in peace from the back,

Showing that devotees intelligence not to lack.

Categories: janaki mangala

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1 reply

  1. Hare Krishna,

    Thank you for sending me Krishna’s Mercy. We can certainly quench our Krishna thirst with just a drop of “his mercy”. I have retired from Federal Government Service after almost 32 years with the Dept. of Agriculture and Customs and Border Protection. Some of my fellow coworkers know about Krishna because of me and that’s pleasing to me. My 2 year project, a book of poetry with inspirational photographs, called SWEET SERENITY, is going to the publisher next month for February 2014 distribution. 30% are KRISHNA POEMS, 15% are A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA POEMS, 15% are GEORGE HARRISON POEMS, the remainder are inspired by ISKCON TUCSON, ARIZONA, ISKCON HONOLULU, HAWAII, ISKCON LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, SAT NAM FEST 2013 in Joshua Tree, California and some special poems I’ve included. The office of Harrisongs in London, is scheduled to provide a special photograph of our beloved George for the book, who is the recipient of my dedication. Please feel free to contact me. I am making a donation for every book sold to ISKCON, so please help me sell some books and serve Krishna!!

    “George taught the world to chant and pray in numbers innumerable to score. He opened his heart from BEHIND THAT LOCKED DOOR, his only desire was to love GOD more”.

    Hari Bol,
    Bhakta Steven
    Henderson, Nevada

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