“The nose, chin, forehead, lips, and teeth are beautiful. The entire body is so beautiful and enchanting that it embarrasses the full moon of the autumn season.” (Janaki Mangala, 52)
nāsā cibuka kapola adhara rada sundara |
basana sarada bidhu nindaka sahaja manohara ||
Shri Ramachandra, the hero of Raghu’s clan, is so kind and sweet that He doesn’t intend to harm anyone. He walks the virtuous path, and if there are any doubts, He relies on the advice and consent of the brahmanas, who are dedicated to Him in thought, word and deed. As God Himself, Rama doesn’t need to abide by any laws, but only to set a good example, to reveal His true nature of kindness and compassion, does He show the world that He is dedicated to virtue. In spite of His humble attitude and reserved demeanor, He serves to embarrass those things in life which are at the top of their respective fields.
The truly great ones don’t speak much. Only when one is unsure of themselves do they talk excessively, as their words of self-praise serve to buck up their own spirits more than anything else. If you see an athlete excessively celebrate or constantly pump themselves up, it should be taken as a sign of hesitancy, an indication of self-doubt. Those who are truly confident in their abilities have no need to pound their chest.
“My dear King Jarasandha, those who are heroes do not talk much. Rather, they show their prowess. Because you are talking much, it appears that you are assured of your death in this battle.” (Lord Krishna, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 49)
As the Supreme Lord is the greatest at everything, He in particular has no need to assert His dominance. He is already the owner of this and every land created, so what need is there to remind people? If, on the other hand, the dependents by constitutional position realize where they fit in and what line of work will give them the most lasting happiness, then only will they derive true pleasure. And from that happiness, the served entity, the one person constitutionally fit to accept an endless amount of affection from an unlimited number of people, feels pleasure as well.
Though Rama owns everything, He allows His children to borrow sections of His property for their own use. The sanctioned freedom is so great that the conditioned souls can even mistakenly believe that the property belongs to them, though they never did anything to create it. Though it’s expected that maybe God would be forgotten at the time of birth, at the very least the parents should get the credit for the hard work required to create the circumstances that exist when we emerge from the womb. Therefore the pitrs, or forefathers, are immediately owed a debt upon birth. With a proper understanding, the living entity can hopefully realize that all property belongs to God. Using our possessions for the Lord’s pleasure makes the temporary ownership fruitful.
Rama is also the strongest. With His impersonal energy He holds afloat the numerous planets. The sun is His creation, and it gives off so much heat and light that people are affected from thousands of miles away. Should the sun not be visible on a particular day, life on that specific section of the earth is drastically affected. Yet Rama never boasts about His strength, though He is stronger than anyone else. After much effort in the gym and a difficult to follow eating regimen, a human being may be able to lift a car or do something else physically extraordinary, yet Rama as a young child in the form of Krishna can lift up a hill without a problem. He can hold it up for seven consecutive days without breaking a sweat, though He ordinarily chooses to mask His strength to allow the offering of innocent affection from others.
Rama is the most famous. During His time on earth He was known throughout the world. His activities were so splendid that Maharishi Valmiki wrote about them before they took place. The sages of the time lived in the forests and thus they were not privy to the day-to-day news of the famous people around the world. There were no nightly celebrity shows or paparazzi to take pictures, yet everyone still knew about Rama and His wife Sita Devi. How their marriage was arranged became so famous that exalted personalities delighted in hearing the story again and again. Anasuya, the wife of Atri Rishi, asked to hear about the accounts directly from Sita, though the sage’s wife already knew what had happened.
“I have heard, O Sita, that your hand in marriage was won by the renowned Raghava on the occasion of the self-choice ceremony [svayamvara]. O Maithili, I wish to hear that story in detail. Therefore please narrate to me the entire sequence of events as you experienced them.” (Anasuya speaking to Sita Devi, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, 118.24-25)
Though Rama is the most knowledgeable, He still bows down and pays obeisance to the respected elders. Rama kindly offered service to Vishvamitra Muni in the forest, though He had no need to take any instruction from anyone. As Krishna, the Supreme Lord accepted the loving affection from the parents Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda. A parent best offers their service when they think the child is dependent. As God is the embodiment of independence, who is there who can properly attend to His needs? Yet Krishna played the role of a dependent child to enhance the loving exchanges with His most cherished devotees.
On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Krishna sung the famous Bhagavad-gita only after Arjuna, the hesitant warrior, asked the Lord to settle his doubts. One could say that Krishna sat on that information for too long, but then again one has to be eager to listen to the highest truths of life in order to understand them. Krishna is the most knowledgeable, but He will not waste His time distributing knowledge to those who have no desire to act upon it. Arjuna was the perfect candidate, so the Lord kindly dispelled his doubts.
Rama is also the most renounced. During His time on earth, He gave up the throne of Ayodhya without any reservation. The order came from His father, but Rama was the rightful heir. The Lord’s younger brother Lakshmana even suggested taking over the throne by force, but Rama has no need for a high position. In the garb of an ascetic, roaming the forests Rama retained His resplendence. His two favorite companions, Sita and Lakshmana, were also extremely beautiful. That is the test to see if one is truly divine. Rama shines in all His glory wherever He is. He possesses renunciation to the fullest degree, so when stripped down from a higher post, the Lord is still Bhagavan, or the possessor of all opulences.
Rama’s beauty is His feature which He arguably downplays the most. The fruitive worker, mystic, and mental speculator are all searching for Rama, as they are attracted by His beauty. Yet the Lord doesn’t let this position affect His behavior. He is comfortable with who He is, so He doesn’t need to flaunt any of His gifts. With this humility, His beauty increases all the more, embarrassing those other objects in life that are considered naturally beautiful.
In the above referenced verse from the Janaki Mangala, Goswami Tulsidas is again making a comparison to the Sharad Purnima, or the full moon of the autumn season. This moon is especially auspicious, as it shines bright in the night sky. It is the emblem of natural beauty, but Rama’s facial features and entire body seated in a throne in King Janaka’s kingdom were so beautiful that they embarrassed that full moon of the autumn.
Rama was seated in a guest’s throne, as Vishvamitra had brought the brothers to Janaka’s kingdom to observe a ceremony. Janaka’s daughter Sita was to be given away in marriage to the first person who could lift Lord Shiva’s extremely heavy bow. Again, Rama is the strongest person, but out of humility, staying in line with His character, He did not volunteer to step up. He had no desire to embarrass the other kings who were confident in their ability to lift the bow and win Sita as a wife.
As reserved as Rama was, seated alongside His brother Lakshmana His distinguishable features could not be fully masked. The onlookers started to notice His beauty and how it defeated the pride of millions of cupids. The god of desire, Kamadeva, is the Vedic equivalent of cupid. The arrows he shoots instill desire for sense gratification in the struck targets. Rama is more powerful than cupid, and His beauty defeats anyone else’s.
Rama’s strength would soon defeat the pride of the invited princes, who had previously tried but failed to lift Shiva’s bow. In a swift motion, Rama would lift, string and then break Mahadeva’s bow, showing the world that only He was fit to marry Janaka’s daughter. That sort of humbling was good for everyone involved, as the more one learns about the Supreme Lord and their own position respective to Him, the better chance they will have to take up devotional service, the soul’s constitutional engagement.
Perfect were lips, forehead and chin,
Of Rama, who every contest does win.
This would be a strength test,
Lifter of bow to be declared the best.
His beauty Shri Rama first to show,
Enchanting vision onlookers to know.
More beautiful than the autumn moon,
That handsome youth to wed Sita soon.
Defeat from God is always good,
Position to Him better understood.