“Everyone is enchanted by the groom sitting inside the mandapa, looking so beautiful, like Kamadeva in the middle of the woods during the spring season.” (Janaki Mangala, 138)
bara birāja manḍapa mahan bisva bimohai |
ṛtu basanta bana madhya madanu janu sohai ||
Let’s say you’re taking a painting class in college. You have some artistic ability, and you want to see how far you can go. If you can refine your skills through the instruction of those who are already talented, you can get the most out of the wonderful gift that God gave you. Now let’s say that one of your assignments is to draw a beautiful person sitting in the woods. These two points combine for the lone stipulation. The rest is up to your imagination.
The person can be anyone. The range of possibilities in this area is infinitely vast. The scene of the forest is a little more limited. You have only a few options. You can choose either day or night. You can choose a heavily wooded area or one that is close to outlets like ponds, rivers and pathways. The most important decision will likely relate to the season. The forest is filled with life. The trees, plants and flowers are living entities in bodies that are incapable of movement. These forms do take birth, remain for some time, and then eventually die. Thus they exhibit the same symptoms as other living beings.
Let’s say that you decide to use a beautiful man for your person. He is fresh in his youth. He has features which are attractive to both male and female alike. Your painting will be viewed by all audiences, so you are not trying to slant the content towards a particular viewpoint. Now that you have the idea of the beautiful youth, where is he going to sit? What is the background going to look like?
The forest is most beautiful during the springtime. The other seasons present their own unique pictures, but the spring gives all signs of life. It is like the infancy of the human being. The young child is full of innocence and a zest for life. They are new to the world, and so there is so much potential for good things. Similarly, in the forest in the spring the flowers start to blossom, creating a wonderful aroma. The setting is so nice that the moving creatures start to happily frolic about. The peacocks, the deer, and the parrots enjoy the springtime the most.
If one were to look at a painting that had the beautiful youth set in the springtime of the most beautiful forest, all the eyes of the world surely would be enchanted. This is the analogy used by Goswami Tulsidas in the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala to describe how Shri Rama looked when He entered the mandapa at His marriage ceremony. He was a youth of the perfect age. He was set to get married, and His beautiful features were incomprehensible. The eyes of the admirers kept glued to Rama’s form precisely to try to understand how one human being could be so beautiful.
The mandapa looked like the forest in the springtime. The family members and well-wishers from both sides accounted for the life of that forest. The sun is what causes the beautiful lotus flowers to open up, and in this case Shri Rama was the sun to the creatures of the forest that was the mandapa, which is a canopy-like structure under which the majority of the marriage rituals in the Vedic tradition take place.
Shri Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in an incarnation form. He is the original brain behind the magnificent creation. The lotus flower, the peacock feather, the sweetness of the birds humming – all these come from God originally. He is the painter with the greatest artistic talent combined with an unmatched imagination. It was not surprising, then, that He created a wonderful scene with Himself situated in the center. Kamadeva is known to be the most beautiful living entity to one who understands the Vedic tradition. Kamadeva is the equivalent of Cupid, but he is still a living entity with a temporary body.
Rama is Bhagavan, which means He has all opulences all the time. His body never deteriorates. His beauty therefore is incomparable, or anupama. The reference to Kamadeva is made simply as a way to help us understand how beautiful Shri Rama is. That same beauty extends to His glories, His fame, and His holy names, which the devotees always chant: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Assignment in painting class to take,
Image of person in forest setting make.
First choose person of beauty the best,
Then in spring’s season to take rest.
Such image to catch attention of all,
Beautiful vision their eyes to enthrall.
In this way Shri Rama in mandapa did look,
Blessed eyes of the world attention took.
Categories: janaki mangala