“Taking the oath, Janaka gave away Sita to Rama in all politeness and happiness in a beautiful scene that was reminiscent of when the king of mountains gave away Parvati to Shiva and when the ocean gave away Lakshmi to Vishnu.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 18.1)
sankalpi si rāmahi samarapī sīla sukha sobhāmaī |
jimi sankarahi girirāja girijā harihi śrī sāgara daī ||
The marriage of Sita and Rama is likely the most famous of them all, so what comparisons can be made to try to accurately describe it to someone else? Even the following description isn’t sufficient: “Wow, this marriage was better than anything ever before seen. The uniqueness was in the beauty of the scene, especially at the culmination, when the bride was given away to the groom by the father. Everything in the scene was perfect. There were no reservations. Everyone was happy. The father took an oath in front of fire to give up protection of his daughter and hand that responsibility over to the new husband. He did everything properly, with attention to etiquette, and with a happy heart. That scene was so beautiful, but what can I say to describe it?”
Goswami Tulsidas understands this dilemma, and so he invokes other famous marriages. These marriages come close to the fame of the marriage of Sita and Rama, and they are also of the divine nature. These marriages were safe ground; using them as comparison points would not sully the image of the beautiful Janaki joining with the handsome Rama. In the process, the mind gets to remember those blessed events, which is always beneficial.
Tulsidas says that the beauty of the scene of Janaka giving away his daughter Sita to Rama was like when the mountain-king gave away his daughter to Shiva. This marriage is described in many places in the Vedas, including by Goswami Tulsidas. The Janaki Mangala is the song glorifying the marriage of Sita and Rama and the Parvati Mangala is the work of the same author glorifying the marriage of Parvati and Shiva. Also, in his most famous work, the Ramacharitamanasa, the same author very nicely summarizes the same wedding, glorifying Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Himavan in the process.
Himavan is the Himalayan mountain range. Though we think of mountains as inanimate objects, according to the Vedas they are powerful personalities. The famous Govardhana Hill is also a personality. The same goes for the Mainaka mountain, which was once petitioned by the ocean to provide respite to Shri Hanuman on his difficult journey to Lanka.
“O Sita, see the golden lord of mountains [Mainaka], which is golden-peaked and which rose up, piercing the ocean, to provide rest to Hanuman.” (Lord Rama speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 123.18)
That offering took place well after the marriage described here of Sita and Rama. Nevertheless, from the Ramayana we get evidence of how mountains are personalities too. Even if one is skeptical of the claim, they can at least acknowledge that the larger collections of matter don’t suddenly appear on their own. The mountains give so much to humanity, so to show respect for them shouldn’t be so odd. We give respect to famous sports trophies like the Stanley Cup, when we know that they are nothing but collections of different metals. It is what they represent that brings the attention, and so the mountain ranges like the Himalayas can be appreciated in the same light.
Himavan and his wife had a beautiful daughter who was named Parvati. This name means the daughter of the mountain, just as Janaki means the daughter of King Janaka. Another name for Parvati is Gauri, which references her beautiful fair complexion. She is also known as Durga, as through her union with Lord Shiva she manages the material creation, which is difficult to overcome. Goddess Durga acts as a fort who uses the threefold miseries of life to keep others from climbing over the walls. Those who propitiate her are able to tolerate these pains a little easier.
Parvati was actually Sati in her previous life. Sati was Lord Shiva’s first wife. Since he would later marry Parvati, technically Shiva only has one wife, eka nari vrata. Sati burned herself in a fire after her husband was insulted. In the next life she would not accept any other husband but Shiva. Since Shiva also has the most chaste wife, Parvati performed tremendous austerities to earn his favor. In her youth the famous Narada Muni told her father that Parvati would be fit for marrying Shiva. Gauri took these words to heart, considering them as coming from her spiritual master, who is a representative of God. Shiva’s attendants tested her commitment several times, once even offering Vishnu as a husband. Parvati kindly declined and held firm to her vow.
As a result, one day Himavan arranged for her marriage to Shiva. Since he was getting the most chaste wife, Shiva was very fortunate. Since the mountain-king’s daughter was completely in favor of the marriage, the scene was beautiful. Though her lady friends and elders felt sorry for her that she had to marry someone who is so renounced, Parvati did not pay any attention. Lord Shiva’s only desire in life is to meditate on the lotus feet of Vishnu, who is the personal form of the Lord dressed in full opulence and having four hands.
Vishnu’s marriage is referenced here as well. Once the demigods and demons churned a large ocean of milk in order to get various items from it, including an elixir to grant immortality. One of the objects that emerged from that churning was Goddess Lakshmi. She appeared from the ocean, so she is considered the ocean’s daughter. In actuality she eternally stays by the side of her husband Lord Vishnu, but in the material realm it was seen that she came from the ocean. The proud father, the ocean, then gave Lakshmi away to Vishnu in a very beautiful scene.
Only those two marriages could rival the beauty of Sita and Rama’s. From the comparisons made by Tulsidas we see that nothing was missing in the union of the divine couple. Everything was extraordinary, including the final act of Sita leaving Janaka’s custody and entering Rama’s. Rama is the same Vishnu and Sita the same Lakshmi. They are God and the goddess of fortune respectively, and so naturally their marriage would be the most famous of them all.
Sita given over to Rama marriage seen,
How to describe this most beautiful scene?
Reminded of when offering the ocean made,
Lakshmi with Vishnu thereafter stayed.
And when after so much austerity done,
Parvati to Shiva, of vow of wife only one.
Sita joining Rama, happy were they all,
Most blessed of marriages forever to call.
Categories: janaki mangala