“Being under the control of passion and lust, Rama’s father, Maharaja Dasharatha, wanted to fulfill Kaikeyi’s cherished desire, thus he did not go through with Rama’s installation ceremony.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.12)
कामार्तस्तु महातेजाः पिता दशरथस्स्वयम्।।
कैकेय्याः प्रियकामार्थं तं रामं नाभ्यषेचयत्।
kāmārtastu mahātejāḥ pitā daśarathassvayam।।
kaikeyyāḥ priyakāmārthaṃ taṃ rāmaṃ nābhyaṣecayat।
Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, extends His causeless mercy by periodically descending to the mortal realm. Not that He ever becomes subject to its rules. He is never prone to birth and death, gain and separation, temporary happiness and sadness, or extreme heat and cold.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य
ग्लानिर् भवति भारत
तदात्मानं सृजाम्य् अहम्
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, to the level that He feels warrants personal intervention, He arrives as Himself. There are noted biographers on hand, sometimes even foreseeing the events prior to the actual occurrence.
The issue of marriage has presented difficulty since before anyone can remember. Not just two people living together for many years, but possible competing goals, taking verbal jabs in areas of known vulnerability. The Ramayana story has several instances of such difficulty.
1. Dasharatha and Kaikeyi
He has such a wonderful name. Since he can defend against attacking chariots coming from the ten directions simultaneously, that noted king in the Ikshvaku dynasty is known as Dasharatha. Many times he helped the forces of good, the suras, in their constant battles with evil, the asuras.
As was not uncommon for the time period, Dasharatha had several wives. A saintly person is always grateful. A single good gesture is never forgotten by them. And so it is not surprising that Dasharatha felt indebted to Kaikeyi after she one time saved his chariot from harm on the battlefield. He promised her any two boons of her choosing.
Since she knew her husband so well, she chose to attack his greatest weakness: affection for Rama. Dasharatha is a pure devotee in this light, as the love he had for his eldest son was actually directed towards the Supreme Lord Himself.
Kaikeyi insisted on separation, and since Dasharatha could not abandon the virtue required of his high position in a well-respected family, he eventually died from the separation from Rama. In effect, due to a fit of extreme envy Kaikeyi killed her husband.
2. Rama and Sita
Rama was not troubled by Kaikeyi’s desire for separation. The crown prince was prepared to leave for the forest and remain in exile for fourteen years. The problem was that Rama’s wife Sita insisted on accompanying. She refused to take “no” for an answer.
Though she is known as the embodiment of chastity and virtue, in this case Sita did not defer to her husband. She stood her ground and was defiant to the point of winning her case. Rama knew that trouble lay ahead, but there was nothing He could do.
3. Sugriva and Tara
This was a complicated situation. In Kishkindha, within the Vanara community there was a great fighter named Vali. He one time got dragged into a conflict that moved inside of a cave. The brother Sugriva eventually sealed up the lone entrance to the cave since he feared the combatant had defeated Vali and would thus emerge to cause further havoc.
Vali had actually survived, and when he found out what Sugriva did there was a mortal feud. Sugriva had to flee to Mount Rishyamukha in fear of his life. He later received assistance from Rama. That son of Dasharatha was searching through the forest for Sita, who had gone missing. Rama was accompanied by His younger brother Lakshmana.
When Rama helped Sugriva overcome the threat of Vali, Sugriva accepted Vali’s widow, Tara. This was a strange situation, as he was essentially sharing the wife of someone so close within his family.
4. Ravana and Mandodari
Sita had gone missing because Ravana, the king of Lanka, took her away by force and in secret. Ravana was already married at the time. He knew that Sita belonged to Rama both in heart and in dharma. That did not stop him; better judgment lost to lust.
In fact, Ravana had many beautiful queens in Lanka. Mandodari was the chief amongst them, and she was completely devoted to Ravana. The ways of marriage are such that the wife sometimes has to suffer because of the uncontrolled lust of her husband. In this case that inexcusable crime of stealing and torturing Sita led to Ravana’s demise, making Mandodari a widow.
In Vedic culture, the marriage institution is known as an ashrama, grihastha. The idea is that there should always be spiritual advancement occurring. Kama, or material desire, is the most difficult force to control, as it leads directly to rebirth in the material world.
Marriage as an institution is a way to keep kama in control, but even within that ashrama there are many potential areas of difficulty. Shri Rama highlights those through His lila, but the person who takes shelter of His lotus feet and always remembers the virtue and perseverance of Sita Devi will be able to conquer any difficulties thrown by the material nature.
Marriage as difficult known,
Through Ramayana even shown.
After envy in her heart filling,
Kaikeyi her husband killing.
Rama relenting to Sita’s plea,
Mandodari a widow to be.
Trouble in that time with many a test,
But servants of Rama and Sita blessed.
Categories: the four