“Everyone is getting the fruit of their eyes for having taken birth. They all pray to Lord Shiva, ‘May that beautiful, dark youth marry Sita so that I can happily sing about the auspiciousness.’” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 7.1)
jaga janami loyana lāhu pāe sakala sivahi manāvahiṃ |
barū milau sītahi sānvaro hama haraṣi mangala gāvahīṃ ||
The women can’t believe what they are seeing. “Where has such a beautiful youth come from? He looks so innocent. He is completely different from the other princes gathered here today. He possesses features in paradoxical combinations. He is kind and sweet, and yet it appears that He can rid the entire world of the demon race. He is in such a youthful figure, but His long arms show signs of immense strength. He is dark in complexion, but this has done nothing to take away from His beauty. He is seated on a throne as a welcomed guest, but He is unmarried, so He is most certainly eligible to marry Sita, which is the reason we are all gathered here today. He has a younger brother who looks like an identical twin except for the skin color. Therefore there is something unique about this boy. He must win this contest and wed our beloved Janaki.”
The women received the fruit of their eyes; a benefit that results from taking birth. The bodily features exist for a reason and they develop after one exits the womb. It is difficult to keep track of this fact, that we have a higher purpose to fulfill, because life in a material existence involves constant fear. “Am I going to do well in school? Will I pass the test? Will I get a good job when I get older? What about my position relative to others? They look like they are so happy making the amount of money they do. I’m equally as smart, if not smarter, so why shouldn’t I make as much money? But then what about my other priorities? How can I balance the need to provide for my family with actually spending time with them?”
As every living being who takes birth is headed for the same destination, that of eventual death, all that happens in between must have a tangible purpose, something which provides a lasting effect. As a mental exercise, think of yourself on your deathbed, knowing that you don’t have much longer to live. What would you want to think about? No more concerns over work, money, school, or the pressing needs of the day. Instead, this is a time for retrospection, to look back on what you did, to see if you maximized the time you spent on this earth.
For the people in Janakpur on this famous day, they realized immediately why they had been given eyes and why those eyes were a blessing from the time of birth. The pleasure from seeing Rama and Lakshmana was so strong that these revelations naturally awoke. The delight to the eyes was heavenly and humbling at the same time. The women wanted to see the two youths every day for the rest of their lives, and just as the people in Ayodhya had previously prayed for the boys’ welfare, the women here wanted the elder to emerge victorious in the contest.
The youths left home at the request of Vishvamitra Muni, who was being harassed in the forests by ghoulish creatures who changed shapes at will. Sort of like terrorists who don civilian clothes to lure in innocent people for attack, these night-rangers had no scruples. They would target the innocent, renounced sages of the forest, kill them, and then eat their flesh. King Dasharatha was a world famous fighter at the time, so he was ready to help Vishvamitra when asked.
Ah, but the sage wanted Dasharatha’s eldest son Rama. No need for the entire army, just the jewel of the Raghu dynasty would suffice. If you get Rama, you get Lakshmana too. There is no way to avoid it. Lakshmana will not leave the side of his brother unless absolutely ordered to do so, and even then he will put up a fight. Not that he interacts with Rama in a spirit of friendship or that they spend hours on end talking with each other. Just Rama’s company alone makes Lakshmana happy, as it does for the entire creation.
Rama is the Supreme Lord, the Absolute Truth in a personal form. The original feature of God is always personal, in spite of what may be taught by less intelligent spiritualists. That same original personal form kindly expands into the Supersoul to accompany every living entity in their travels through a material existence. The recognition of the Supersoul and the effort taken to connect with Him bring transcendental pleasure. Sometimes that same Supersoul appears in a personal form to give the eyes an idea of what God looks like and what results from that recognition.
The love offered to Rama and Lakshmana was innocent and heartfelt; the sentiments were genuine and not rooted in an awe-inspired viewpoint. As the brothers left for the forest, the people of the town of Ayodhya prayed for their welfare, that not a single hair from their heads would fall while bathing. They also prayed that they would return successful, as that would enhance the fame of the family.
After defeating many Rakshasas in the forest at the direction of Vishvamitra, the boys made it to Janakpur, where a contest was taking place. Vishvamitra brought them there, and King Janaka, the host of the ceremony, gave the trio a warm welcome and provided thrones for them to sit on and watch. The attention was on the extremely heavy bow belonging to Lord Shiva. It had to be lifted by someone if Sita were to be married. First come, first serve. Sudden death, if you will. The first person to lift the bow would win the contest and Sita’s hand in marriage.
Lord Shiva is a primary divine figure of the Vedic tradition, and he takes on several different roles. For his own identification, he is a Vaishnava first, a devotee of the personal aspect of the Supreme Lord. Then there is his assigned role as the demigod in charge of the mode of ignorance, granting benedictions to those who don’t know any other religion except asking for boons to carry out their wicked plots. He is also the worshipable figure for others looking for benedictions. Unmarried women worship him to get a good husband.
The women at the ceremony were so kind that they prayed to Lord Shiva to give Sita Devi, Janaka’s daughter, a good husband. They wanted Rama to marry Sita for their own satisfaction as well. They prayed to be able to happily sing of the auspiciousness should the blessed event take place. The prayer to Lord Shiva was also significant because it was his bow that was to serve as the determining factor. These types of deals with divine figures are always nice to see, because they attempt to put the order suppliers in a sort of checkmate situation. “If you let Rama marry Sita, we will happily sing of the auspicious occasion. That is certainly a good thing, as who wants to live in misery? Everyone here will be happy as well.” By phrasing the request in this way, the pressure was put on Lord Shiva to come through. If he didn’t, it would almost be his fault for the situation turning from auspicious to inauspicious.
What would the result be? Upon seeing Rama the fruit of their eyes was tasted just slightly, and that pleasure would increase exponentially when the sweetheart son of mother Kausalya would try His hand at the contest. Lakshmana was the younger brother, so he was not eligible for the contest in Rama’s presence. The youth with a dark complexion arose from His throne and easily lifted Mahadeva’s bow, subsequently announcing to the world His victory by breaking the bow while stringing it. The women got what they wanted, as did Lord Shiva. The wish granted, that joyous occasion has been happily sung about ever since.
Why should in misery I be living?
Should not of felicity be singing?
The Supreme Lord’s glories are the most joyous,
Sung since time immemorial by Vedas’ chorus.
In Janakpur, prize of Sita was on the line,
Women prayed to Shiva in this tense time.
First belonged to him this bow of heavy weight,
So he could determine Sita’s ultimate fate.
To give Janaki best husband Shiva agreed,
By marriage of Sita and Rama he was pleased.