Feeling Like Family

Sita and Rama“The clever ladies taught the bride and groom all the rituals. Giving curses to the other party in fun, feeding morsels of food to each one equally, they are very happy.” (Janaki Mangala, 149)

catura nāri bara kunvarihi rīti sikhāvahin |
dehiṃ gāri lahakauri samau sukha pāvahin ||

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There are many benefits to having a sibling, and one of them is that you have someone with whom you can share your frustrations relating to your parents. If the mother or father consistently does something to irritate you, you can tell one of your friends for sure. But the discussion ends there. If your friend makes any derogatory remark whatsoever, even if it is a sentiment first urged on by you, you will get offended. “Who are you to speak about my parents that way? What gives you the right?” The sibling has the same set of parents, and so not only are you free to voice your complaints, but you can even make jokes about your parents without it hurting anyone. In the scene of the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, all the parties involved indeed felt like family, though they had only been tied together for a short time.

If your grandfather has a peculiar habit that you find hilarious, you can discuss it with your brother or sister. If your mother has a tendency to fly off the handle, you can’t bring it up with people outside of the family. They will get the wrong impression of your mother. They will think that she is tyrannical, whereas you only brought up the interesting behavior because it was a source of humor. In the material world there is duality in every sphere, which means a simple joke can cause both laughter and anger.

The person who is outside the circle of the joke will take offense. Especially if the person making it isn’t a close friend or family member, what else are they supposed to think? If they don’t have the full context of the conversation, they will get the wrong understanding. Indeed, taking humorous statements out of context is a principal tool of destruction used by political opponents. The “camera is always rolling,” so to speak, with a person running for political office. If they should make a joke to their friends while they think the microphone is off, and then someone else picks up on that comment, it can be distributed widely to the public. Others who are not privy to the context will get the wrong impression.

Sita and RamaTo the person in the know, the jokes are very pleasing. Here the clever ladies at the marriage ceremony of Sita and Rama are giving verbal jabs to the opposing side. The bride’s side is making fun of the groom’s side and vice versa. At this marriage everything was done according to tradition. There was no expense spared, as the host was the wealthy and pious king of Mithila. The marriage took place according to dharma, or religiosity. There was no kama, or sense gratification, involved.

The parties felt comfortable making jokes at each other because they were all family now. If you can’t make fun of your family members, who can you make fun of? If you’re not going to enjoy with the people you trust the most, then you are devoid of any enjoyment. All had a good time since Sita was now married to Rama. Indeed, the joke-making made the event more joyous. Sort of like having a band at your wedding or a fully stocked buffet at your get-together, the jokes were very appropriate to the occasion.

The clever ladies also taught Sita and Rama the appropriate rituals, such as feeding a morsel of food to each other. The food consisted of yogurt and rice, and the exchange is customary in a wedding ceremony of the Vedic tradition. It is said that everyone was so happy as a result. Wouldn’t you be thrilled as well? Where else do you hear about God being taught how to feed His wife? Where else do you learn about the beautiful eternal consort of the Supreme Lord being given instructions on how to offer food to her husband in love?

Indeed, such variety is present in the spiritual world, and that variety is replicated when the Divine and His associates appear on this earth in apparently human forms. With variety in form, the many children of God get the opportunity to engage in direct service. Here there was no fear on the part of the clever ladies. There was only boundless love. That love manifested in instruction and the offering of verbal jabs, thereby showing that the all-merciful Supreme Lord allows all to engage in devotional service in the mood of their choice.

Of course the prerequisite is the familial bond. We don’t like it when our friends say anything bad about our family, even if their statements are accurate. The friends are not part of the family, so they don’t get a free pass to lob abuses. The brother and sister are allowed to since there is a lasting bond with them. With God, there is the chance to enter the family since everyone is already in it. Through a lack of the proper consciousness only does one think that God doesn’t exist or that man is evolved today through natural selection of the strongest species. That evolved man no longer has to worry about God, which is a foolish mindset.

With the proper consciousness, one is allowed to reenter the family and from there engage in these wonderful pastimes, the likes of which fill up the voluminous pages of Vedic literature. The ladies took delight in this ceremony and so do the pure-hearted souls who hear with rapt attention, paying homage to the author who took so much time and effort to describe these events that his mind was so immersed in.

In Closing:

Though anecdotes of my family may reveal,

Open to criticizing them don’t ever feel.


Jovial talk for close siblings reserved,

With outsiders some respect need observed.


Felt like family already did ladies clever,

Lobbed abuses in both ways did they ever.


New bride and groom to feed each other taught,

Sita and Rama, their marriage so much happiness brought.


Categories: janaki mangala

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