“There is a proverb in Sanskrit which says, ‘Disappointment gives rise to the greatest satisfaction.’ In other words, when one’s sentiment or ambition becomes too great and is not fulfilled until after seemingly hopeless tribulation, that is taken as the greatest satisfaction.” (Shrila Prabhupada, The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 31)
The men and women of the town saw everything. They experienced a full range of emotions. It began with anticipation. The great contest to determine the rightful husband for the daughter of the king. Janaka took a vow, and in this time period the word of the ruler meant something.
The daughter was so amazing that the marriage wouldn’t take place in the typical arrangement. Sita would marry whichever prince would first lift an amazingly heavy bow, passed on in the family for generations. It was practically impossible to lift, but Janaka’s daughter Sita once moved it without a problem, when she was a child.
There must be a man in the world who could do the same. Janaka’s contest would hopefully bring such a person. The people of the town looked on, as there was a great assembly of contestants. The men and women saw one prince in particular that caught their eye. Shri Rama from Ayodhya, He was perfect for Sita, they thought. Now that dreaded contest was getting in the way. Janaka’s vow would do him in.
Fortunately, Rama lifted the bow and won the contest. No other prince could even move that bow. Janaka was so thrilled at heart that he arranged for the marriages of Rama’s three younger brothers to take place simultaneously.
Eventually, the bridegroom party had to leave. They had to return to Ayodhya. Goswami Tulsidas says that the people of the town felt so blessed to have seen Rama and His three younger brothers. There is no accurate way to explain the emotion, since bhakti, pure devotion to God, transcends the material world. Still, some comparisons are provided to help convey the feeling of thankfulness for having received such a blessing for the eyes.
1. A dying man finding nectar
The Sanskrit word is amrita. The literal meaning is “not death.” The word usually references nectar, as amrita emerged when the demigods and the demons were one time churning an ocean. Such nectar is certainly appreciated if you have found it, but the value to the individual increases when there is imminent death. Such an experience is similar to a dying man being cured; except a cure is only temporary, while amrita is supposed to grant immortality.
2. A poor person who finds a heavenly desire tree
One word used is surataru. This means “tree of the demigods.” It is a wish-fulfilling tree. Go up to it and get whatever you want. Again, who wouldn’t be thrilled at meeting such a tree? Imagine, then, if a person who has been poor their entire life gets the meeting. They don’t know what it is to eat on a regular basis. They’ve never dreamed of being rich; all they know is poverty. Suddenly, they can get whatever they ask for, at a moment’s notice.
3. A person suffering in hell gaining elevation to Hari’s realm
The Vedas describe three primary regions in a material existence: heaven, earth and hell. Residence in each place is temporary, though it may be long under our current estimation. If you go to heaven, you can fall back to earth once your time commensurate with pious deeds runs out. The same goes for hell, as eventually the sentence reaches its end, leading to birth on earth.
Just getting to heaven from hell is difficult; it takes time. Imagine, then, if a person condemned to hell were to find Hari’s region. This is the spiritual world, beyond anything we remember experiencing. Heaven and hell are simply extreme instances of varieties of life we already experience on earth. Hari is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, so residence in His place equates to liberation. It is difficult enough for a person in heaven to reach that region, let alone someone condemned to hell.
This helps to explain how fortunate the people of Tirahuta felt. The joy of appreciating the Supreme Lord in bhakti is beyond description. The people had worried that Sita would not find a suitable husband, and instead they got more than they ever dreamed. That victory in the end was made sweeter through the fear of a potential disappointment.
Despite being stuck in the cycle of birth and death, with one misery after another, with danger at every step, if a person is fortunate enough to find the shelter of the lotus feet of Shri Rama, then the joy of that victory is too beyond description.
Rama’s bow victory seeing,
Worries of the people freeing.
Now Sita with Him to wed,
Moments prior a failure to dread.
Like amrita after death almost to see.
Or poor person at heaven’s tree.
Or finding Vaikuntha after suffering in hell,
Bhakti’s joy beyond words to tell.
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