“The princes are on the two sides of the muni, like blue and yellow lotuses with the sun in between.” (Janaki Mangala, 63)
duhu disi rājakumāra birājata munibara |
nīla pīta pāthoja bīca janu dinakara ||
This is another reference to the sun made by Goswami Tulsidas to describe the son of Gadhi, Vishvamitra Muni. The spiritual master is the sun to brighten up the unfortunately dark consciousness of the conditioned living being. The source of the sun’s effulgence is unknown to the spiritually disinclined, but the brightness of the spiritual master shines from his belief in the Supreme Personality. More than just a faith directed towards a figure of a particular spiritual tradition, in full intelligence the guru serves the Supreme Being regularly, with every thought, word and deed. Because of this his life is a symbol of sacrifice.
In this particular instance, the two young disciples accompanying the sage were already all-knowing. They had no need to accept a spiritual master, and so they voluntarily assumed the role of disciples. They were quite young, so youthful that their guardians worried about their welfare in the forest, even while under the care of the expert teacher Vishvamitra. The boys were capable bow warriors, specifically requested to quell the threat of violence that had plagued the peaceful saints residing in the forest.
What was that threat exactly? On the one side you have peaceful saints and on the opposite end are the miscreants who are more than just averse to spiritual traditions and the principles followed in them. One person may be unaware of something foreign to them, but they won’t have the hubris to proclaim that they know what is going on. The miscreants, who are committed to their way of life, will go one step further and denounce the pious, proclaiming that they are a threat to society. Since they don’t follow an authorized system of maintenance themselves, these fools make up dharmas on a whim, and because of this they are capable of anything.
The miscreant class was concentrated on the island of Lanka during this particular time period. They had decided that it was pious behavior to attack the sages residing in the forest. Mind you, these ascetics had no possessions, just the bark for their clothes and the thatched huts for their residence. They had no money and they weren’t trying to get any. They wanted to live in peace, to stay detached from material affairs.
The night-rangers from Lanka decided to attack the saints in the dead of night, when it was hardest to be detected. They would also change their shapes at will, thereby first appearing innocent to a person who would otherwise suspect foul play. In the vulnerable state the sages were being attacked, killed, and then eaten by these vile creatures.
Vishvamitra went to Ayodhya to get the help of one particular fighter. King Dasharatha was the ruler of the town and thereby the leader of the army. The king received Vishvamitra well and promised to offer his personal protection, which would be accompanied by his massive army. But the son of Gadhi wanted only Dasharatha’s eldest son Rama, who was not yet twelve years of age. On to the forest went the jewel of the Raghu dynasty, taking His younger brother Lakshmana with Him.
“Travelling along the way with the rishi they are looking so beautiful. That beautiful image lives within Tulasi’s heart. When the trio was going, it looked like the sun travelling north, taking with it the spring season.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 4.2)
In his Janaki Mangala Tulsidas compared the scene of the trio departing Ayodhya to the sun travelling in the north, taking the two months of the spring season with it. The sun was referred to as dina-natha, or the lord of the day. That Rama and Lakshmana would be compared to spring is not surprising, as they would bring renewed life to an area that had suffered a winter-like period due to the attacks of night-rangers headed by Maricha.
Rama and Lakshmana would do their part, and then later at the direction of Vishvamitra they would make it to Janakpur, where a svayamvara was being held for the king’s daughter, Sita Devi. King Janaka received the trio hospitably and gave them thrones to sit on. It was while they were seated that they looked like the sun rising with a blue lotus on one side and a yellow lotus on the other.
The sage and the boys weren’t purposefully placed in thrones for everyone to see, but their beauty was such that no one could fail to notice them. The residents were so enchanted by Rama and Lakshmana that they knew that the reason for their existence had been met that day. They worried over the outcome of the event, wanting Rama, the elder brother, to win the contest, which required lifting an enormously heavy bow. The winner would gain Sita’s hand in marriage and thus enter the family. Through their beautiful appearance, the two sons of Dasharatha had already entered the people’s hearts.
Aside from being the symbol of purity and beauty, the lotus flower is notable for its behavior with respect to the sun. As soon as the sun rises in the sky, the lotus flower sprouts open and shows off its beauty. When the sun sets later on, the same lotus closes back up, as if to shun the association of anything besides its precious sun. The comparison is appropriate for this situation because Rama and Lakshmana were so dedicated to Vishvamitra. One would never think that the boys were in the superior position, though they were the Supreme Lord and His number one servant respectively.
Rama was dark in complexion, so He was like the blue lotus. Lakshmana was golden colored, so He was like the yellow lotus. In this situation Vishvamitra was the maker of the day, the sun, because he brought the vision of the two flowers to the assembly. The boys acted at the direction of the sage, just as the lotus flowers are dependent on the sun for their movements.
Through His actions the Supreme Lord pays the highest honor to the spiritual master, who is His representative on earth. That maker of the day would ask Rama to participate in the contest, to curb the pride of the many princes who had gathered there on that day. The blue lotus would easily lift the bow and win Sita’s hand in marriage, automatically bringing huge smiles to the faces of the devoted onlookers, who were like lotuses to the sun of the sun-dynasty, Shri Rama.
Lotus opens up at sight of the sun,
And then closes when day is done.
The day the sun makes,
Its light earth’s creatures take.
Spiritual master the same,
Vedic wisdom from him gain.
As disciples Rama and Lakshmana took the role,
To Vishvamitra did as they were told.
Bringing them to Janakpur the day was made,
Vision of blue and yellow lotuses with people stayed.