Touching Up

Arati“They are distributing gifts and doing arati while looking at the groom. They are so overwhelmed with love that they are not concerned about their bodies.” (Janaki Mangala, 136)

kari āratī nichāvari barahiṃ nihārahiṃ |
prema magana pramadāgana tana na sanbhārahiṃ ||

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“She’s always late. Whenever we have to go somewhere, I am the one who is ready first. It’s habit for me. I plan my day around the specific event of importance. If I have to be somewhere at 7:30 pm, I’ll start preparing a few hours in advance. I’d much rather be early to something than late. I don’t like the pressure of missing a deadline. To me it’s not a game. I’m not trying to limit the amount of time spent waiting by being early. I am more than happy to be the first one there.

“My wife, on the other hand, takes her sweet old time. Not that she walks around here and there; she is preparing the whole time. She’s trying on this dress and that. She’s applying makeup and then taking it off, only to reapply it. She needs her shoes to match her dress. Her hair has to be a certain way. Everything has to be just right. She would rather be late and look perfect than on time and not so perfect. I can’t stand it. One of these days I’m going to leave without her. That will teach her a lesson.”

Indeed, a famous American television sitcom portrayed this exact scene in an episode. In the show, the father of the anxious husband had many years prior instituted a rule, wherein if the children weren’t in the seats in the car at a certain time, the car would drive off without them. The husband decided to implement this rule one time, with the prior consent of the wife. Lo and behold, she wasn’t in the car at the allotted time, and so the husband drove off to the event without her. Needless to say, the wife wasn’t too pleased with him.

VanityThese are the stereotypes, that men don’t pay as much attention to cosmetics and appearance as women do. This is nature’s arrangement. Men and women are different in their behavior. They each have their tendencies and characteristics. Knowing that women generally pay more attention to their bodily appearance makes the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala especially significant. These were the most beautiful women in the world, and through offering devotion to a particular bridegroom, they completely cast aside attention to their bodily appearance.

The bridegroom in this case was the Supreme Lord, Shri Ramachandra. He appeared on earth because He desired to do so. There were also ancillary concerns relating to nefarious characters dispersed throughout the world. Typically these characters are dealt with through the Lord’s impersonal forces. His most potent force that isn’t directly under His supervision is time, which is also known as death. No matter how big a person may be, death will eventually knock them down. Thus Rama had no particular reason to knock down foes who were already slated for destruction by death.

He appeared more so to give pleasure to others. Those who would take pleasure in His vision had first priority at seeing Him. This only makes sense. Why waste your time with enemies? They will never turn your way, despite endless well-wishing and insightful words. Better to spend time with those who will appreciate you, for they are deserving of the rewards that accompany your association.

Lord RamaOne of the benefits of associating with God is that you pay less attention to things that aren’t so important. Maintenance of the body is necessary for keeping the internal vital air intact, but beyond that there is really no difference between a good appearance and a bad one. One person wears an expensive suit, while another wears rags, but the two people are identical in their constitution. The clothes are just part of the physical appearance. They don’t change who the person is. The wise don’t pay so much attention to appearance. From a simple life, where there is high thinking about the true meaning to an existence, the body looks fine enough.

This sounds well and good in theory, but it must be difficult to implement in practice. When there is such difficulty, it always helps to see the implementation in those we normally wouldn’t associate with the practice. If the guy on television selling us a weight loss supplement is super thin and has been so their whole life, we may not be so tempted to buy their product. After all, the person is already in good shape. What need do they have for a weight loss supplement? If, however, we see that the same person was previously overweight, then we know that some difference was made. The overweight person is considered less likely to lose weight, so by seeing that they used a certain product, we can understand that maybe it might work.

In the scene of the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, beautiful women are casting aside concern for their bodies. This is due to the love they feel while worshiping the Supreme Lord. They are offering Him an arati, or welcoming light, and showering Him with gifts. While doing this, they are filled with love. This means that they are not following these rituals as a mere formality. They are very happy to do them, as they get to worship someone who has everything. They get to make offerings to someone who is never in need of anything. Since He is following through on a marriage ceremony, with the intent of joining the daughter of King Janaka, He is compelled to sanction the offering of gifts. In other words, there is nothing He can do to stop the ladies from worshiping Him in such a way.

Sita and RamaThrough the love they feel for Rama, they immediately cast aside concern for their bodies. Whether their makeup was right, whether their dresses were properly in line, whether their hair was tightly knotted – these were not of concern since they got to love Rama. If an ascetic were to have the same emotion, then it wouldn’t be so remarkable. After all, an ascetic has a simple garb. They likely don’t have long hair to worry about. Their dress consists of a single cloth. They already give little attention to their body, so to say that worshiping Rama makes them feel less concern isn’t that significant.

When you take women who are always attentive to physical appearance and illustrate the same principle of detachment in them, then you get a real idea of how powerful devotion to God is. Rama is God. He is the Supreme Lord with the features drawn out. He is not an old man who is vengeful towards those who defy His will. Everyone who doesn’t love Him in consciousness right now is going against His will. This would mean that God would be the angriest person in existence. In the Vedas, it is said that He is just the opposite. Since He has all transcendental pleasure, He is known as Rama. Since He is all-attractive, He is known as Krishna. On this particular occasion, He would marry Sita, the beloved princess of the town of Mithila. Through that bond Rama would also be known as Janakinatha and Sitapati.

In Closing:

Wife always to events is late,

To put hair and makeup in perfect state.


Such concern women at wedding to cast aside,

Since worshiping Rama, in whom goodness resides.


Ascetic not worried about look or gain,

So effect in their detachment not the same.


Worship of God highest priority to rate,

Puts consciousness in alignment straight.

Categories: janaki mangala

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