A Good Father

[Marriage party]“In this way all four sons were married, and their fame spread throughout the world. Giving happiness to the people along the way, the lord of Ayodhya came home.” (Janaki Mangala, 180)

ehi bidhi byāhi sakala suta jaga jasu chāāyau |
maga loganhi sukha deta avadhapati āyau ||

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Say that you’re expecting your first child with your wife. You prepared for this. You knew that you were ready to start a family. But as the time of the birth approaches, you ask yourself some questions. “Will I be a good father? How should I act? Am I cut out to give protection to someone so young and innocent? In fact, what makes a good father? How does he act?” The time and circumstance dictate the requirements, though love is what guides properly in all circumstances. The lord of Ayodhya a long time ago had a tremendous responsibility, which he fulfilled to the satisfaction of everyone.

“Just be there for them. That’s the majority of the parenting role. If you’re not there, you can’t guide. You can’t protect if you’re always away. Just be there for your kids, and they will figure out that you are the authority figure. They won’t expect that much of you anyway. Just having you around is enough.” King Dasharatha was around for his four sons. They came to him after a long time. It is not uncommon in modern times to marry at an advanced age. Dasharatha did not have this problem. He had three wives, which was not out of the ordinary during the more pure age known as Treta, the second of the four time periods of creation. With each successive period, dedication to virtue declines within society. Dasharatha loved and protected his three wives.

[Dasharatha's sacrifice]It was the son who was late in arriving. The king needed one to continue the family line. He was in a most famous family, one that traced its origin to the sun-god, Vivasvan. Finally, after performing a sacrifice for the purpose, Dasharatha received four beautiful sons through his three wives. He was there for those sons. He guided them. He protected them. He put them in the custody of the royal priest at the appropriate time.

The marriage of his eldest son Rama took place through Vishvamitra’s direction. Vishvamitra was one of the priest-like men who was trusted by Dasharatha to guide his sons. Vishvamitra took care of Rama and His younger brother Lakshmana for a period. Though Dasharatha didn’t arrange for the marriage of Rama to Sita, he gave his consent. He also arrived for the ceremony, bringing along Rama’s two other brothers. The kind father of Sita, Janaka, was so swept away by the moment that he offered to have Dasharatha’s three other sons get married as well. So the king of Ayodhya went to Janaka’s city to agree to one marriage, and he returned home with all four of his sons married.

In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, it is said that the fame of those four marriages spread throughout the world. This can refer to the husbands and wives themselves and also to Dasharatha. Honor ascends. It cannot be passed on to future generations, because those generations have nothing to do with the act that warranted the honor in the first place. If you do something good, the praise extends upwards, in the direction of the parents. Through Rama’s marriage to Sita, the honor ascended to the father Dasharatha. The marriages of the three other brothers further increased the fame of the good father.

It is also said here that Dasharatha gave happiness to the people along the way back home. Think of it like the parade celebrating a notable personality. They travel on a car through the city streets, with so many well-wishers looking on and waving. They line up early just to get a brief look at the person in question. This is sort of how it was when Dasharatha and his sons returned home to Ayodhya. The people caught a glimpse of the triumphant party, who were led by the good father.

[Lord Rama]That father’s primary qualification was his love for the eldest son Rama, who is God. And so in all situations, whether one wants to be a good father, mother, brother, sister, friend, etc. – if they have love for God then things will work themselves out. To have love for God is not very difficult; it lies deep within us. It is a part of us that no one or thing can take away. It is aroused through devotional service, bhakti-yoga, which is best practiced today through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

Happy in birth of child to see,

But how good father to be?


With love in all times give,

Then with protection they’ll live.


Sons through sacrifice Dasharatha earned,

Married happily to Ayodhya they returned.


Along city streets well-wishers took their spot,

Showing love for God that each of us has got.


Categories: janaki mangala

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