“Then a voice, sounding like a human being, was heard from the sky which said, ‘O king, this child is rightfully your daughter.’ Thereupon my father, the righteous King of Mithila, was greatly pleased. Obtaining me as his daughter, that ruler of men felt highly blessed and fortunate.” (Sita Devi speaking to Anasuya, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.31-32)
अन्तरिक्षे च वागुक्ताऽप्रतिमाऽमानुषी किल |
एवमेतन्नरपते धर्मेण तनया तव ||
ततः प्रहृष्टो धर्मात्मा पिता मे मिथिलाधिपः |
अवाप्तो विपुलां बुद्धिं मामवाप्य नराधिपः ||
antarikṣe ca vāguktā’pratimā’mānuṣī kila |
evametannarapate dharmeṇa tanayā tava ||
tataḥ prahṛṣṭo dharmātmā pitā me mithilādhipaḥ |
avāpto vipulāṃ buddhiṃ māmavāpya narādhipaḥ ||
“King Janaka was a yogi. He was known for his dispassion. There is mention of him in Bhagavad-gita. I take that to mean he was well-known during his time. I understand that there were many kings with the same name, in the same family, but this Janaka refers specifically to the one who found Sita Devi, the goddess of fortune, in the ground.
“In the Ramayana, we hear a brief retelling of the events, from Sita herself. She describes Janaka to be fortunate from that incident. I understand within the Vedic tradition the arrival of a daughter is like receiving Lakshmi Devi within the home. It is supposed to be a boon, in that sense.
“Janaka received Lakshmi directly, in the incarnation of Sita. At the same time, I don’t see how that was fortunate for him. Not that there isn’t value in being a parent, but yoga is about meditation and concentration. Children are known to interrupt.
“You could be sitting down, prepared to contemplate for an extended period of time. Next thing you know, the child starts screaming. This is not regular crying, either. This is a unique sound, one that you cannot ignore.
“Isn’t family-life the embodiment of passion? Do you see the contradictions here? I am wondering how someone like Janaka would not run away from home at the mere thought of having to raise a child, especially one found accidentally, while ploughing a field in preparation for a yajna [sacrifice].”
There is a reason Bhagavad-gita is one of the common approaches through which a person takes their initial steps within the science of self-realization. In addition to the wonderful summary provided on the difference between spirit and matter, there is clarification on what exactly a life in self-realization might look like.
A person does not have to delve too deeply into the text in order to get the general idea. The premise and conclusion paint a vivid enough picture. At the beginning, Arjuna is a military man. He has doubts. He approaches the best teacher in the universe, Shri Krishna.
At the conclusion, Arjuna is still a military man. He has not changed occupation. He has not abandoned the battlefield at that critical moment. He has not shaved his head and gone to live in a remote cave. He has not taken to the officially recognized occupation of teacher.
Arjuna continues as a military man, but armed with transcendental knowledge. His firing arrows in defense of dharma is on an equal footing with meditation by a world-famous yogi. On a similar note, there is the description in Shrimad Bhagavatam of the good fortune of the residents of Vraja.
They received the vision of the same Krishna, but in child form. This is something yogis long for, with extended time before dreaming of success. This is the goal of many lifetimes’ worth of pious activities. To see Krishna in that setting is the embodiment of punya.
We could apply the same analysis to Janaka. Receiving Sita Devi was a reward for his pious activities. It was not a punishment. He was fortunate enough to have his doubts removed by a voice in the sky. By taking her home and holding affection for her, he was not breaching ethics. This was his daughter in all righteousness.
Parenting or any time-consuming endeavor can be an impediment to yoga, but it doesn’t have to be. As Arjuna did not change his occupation, so there is no strict requirement that we turn our life upside down in order to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
गतसङ्गस्य मुक्तस्य ज्ञानावस्थितचेतसः ।
यज्ञायाचरतः कर्म समग्रं प्रविलीयते ॥
“The work of a man who is unattached to the modes of material nature and who is fully situated in transcendental knowledge merges entirely into transcendence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.23)
If we can constantly think of Him, we will approach Him. If we are always devoted, even through our daily work, then that work merges into transcendence. The people associated become fortunate, as well, as they are part of the life in yoga, in reaching the perfection of an existence.
Whilst land trying to clear,
Daughter appearing to him dear.
Like that greatest fortune found,
Confirmed by sky’s voice sound.
Janaka’s yoga not hurt at all,
By new family member to call.
Rather reward for pious life ready,
Blessed those in devotion steady.