“Having given that advice, the saintly kings started to look at that unique picture of the moon of the lily-like Raghu dynasty, making their eyes like a Chakora bird looking at the moon.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 8.2)
siṣa dei bhūpati sādhu bhūpa anūpa chabi dekhana lage |
raghubansa kairava canda citai cakora jimi locana lage ||
The kairava flower is the white lotus, which is unique because it opens up at the sight of the moon. The lotus flower commonly invoked by poets of the bhakti school symbolizes spontaneous and dependent devotion to the Supreme Lord. During the day the sunshine causes the lotus flower to open up, and then at night, when the sun falls, the lotus closes up, as if to say it only lives for its beautiful sun, the giver of life.
In the dark night, it is the moon to provide the soothing rays of hope. The kairava, the white lotus, opens up at the sight of the bright moon, showing that nothing else in the night can give it happiness. In the dark night the Chakora bird also fixes its gaze upon the moon, not looking at anything else. In this way there is strict dependency and also loyalty. If we tell someone else that we can’t live without them, to back up our statement, we will not look anywhere else for happiness. The exclusive devotion shows the object of affection that the attention they get is special, and at the same time that style of worship gives the worshiper pleasure, for they know that they are honoring the relationship they hold so dear.
A long time ago, a gathering of saintly kings made their eyes like the Chakora bird, except the moon they were looking at was a person. Since He was the moon of His dynasty, He was known as Ramachandra. Since He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead manifesting Himself in a seemingly human form, His activities were celebrated during His time. He continues to be remembered and honored to this day through the devotees who sing of His glories and chant His holy names, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
The Raghu dynasty itself was like the kairava flower, or water-lily, spreading its beauty throughout the world. In the above referenced verse, Goswami Tulsidas compares Rama to the moon of that lily-like dynasty because the glory, fame, strength, prestige, and protection of that dynasty opened up and spread with the appearance of Shri Rama, who was the moon of that dynasty, which happened to originate with the sun.
The kings looking at the beautiful son of King Dasharatha were gathered in Janakpur to take part in a contest. King Janaka was hosting the event and he promised to give away his beautiful daughter Sita to whoever could lift a very heavy bow. Some of the assembled kings viewed Rama as part of the competition, but then others developed a spontaneous attraction to Him, harboring love for both He and His younger brother Lakshmana, who were both there accompanied by the sage Vishvamitra.
Rama and Lakshmana must have presented a unique picture at which to look for the natural competitive attitude to subside in the kings. The royal dynasties from around the world were there for one reason: to win the contest. Think of competing in a sporting event that you’ve prepared for quite a while beforehand. You’re ready to compete, you’ve trained hard, and you know that victory will prove that you are very capable in your particular sport.
The need to show off his strength is more important in a king. The winner of this contest would show that he was uniquely strong and that with that strength he could protect the new wife, who had delicate features and feminine beauty that was unmatched. For that competitive attitude focused on victory to vanish at the mere sight of something, that object had to have unique features.
The brothers had this effect on people, with Rama garnering more attention because He was to participate in the contest. Some of the kings advised other kings to give up their opposition and surrender to the beautiful image. They were admonished for abandoning their shame and not worshiping Rama, who was God standing right before them.
The saintly kings not only abandoned their competitive attitude, they kept looking at Rama with devotion. Their eyes were like the Chakora bird, which has no other source of sustenance than the moon. That dedication would not harm them in the end, though Rama would raise the bow and win Sita’s hand. His accomplishment was more pleasurable to the saintly kings than winning for themselves. The unique picture of the Supreme Lord reuniting with His pleasure potency expansion is for the pleasure of the eyes, whose lens is cleared by devotion.
In the degraded state, the eyes can’t see the influence of the Divine. Though not a single blade of grass can move without Rama’s influence, the stubborn mind thinks that the individual is responsible for all the results seen in life. Because of this defective mindset, there can only be misery, as man cannot control every outcome. Try as hard as you can, but you can never get a complete handle on things. The kings assembled in Janakpur are an example to prove this fact. They thought they were strong enough to lift the bow, but none of them could even move it. Then along came this youth with His even more youthful younger brother. The brothers were not supposed to participate, as they only arrived there following the sage’s lead.
The kings kept their eyes fixed on the brothers, considering the external surroundings to be like darkness. Can you stare at something that you can’t see? In the dark night there are many other objects around, but they cannot be seen because of the absence of light. The Chakora bird points its eyes only towards the soothing light of the moon, ignoring the objects in the darkness. Even those things which are illuminated by the moon are considered unimportant by the devoted Chakora.
The eyes of the saintly kings were like a magnet naturally attracted to the beautiful form of Lord Rama, who was seated next to Lakshmana and Vishvamitra. The area of interest was packed with so many people, so it wasn’t as if the kings were seated in a serene setting where concentration is easier to establish. But the vision of Shri Rama has that effect, creating a connection in consciousness with those who are pure of heart.
Where there is fame, beauty, and splendor, there is likely strength as well. Shri Rama is the greatest coordinator, and He planned this event to curb the false pride of the rival kings and delight the hearts and minds of the sincere souls gathered there that day. He continues to shine His bright rays to the population of this and many other planets through His holy names, the saints which chant them, and the pastimes recorded in Vedic literature.
When the moon rises at night,
Water-lily to open up at its light.
Kairava also known as the lotus white,
Rama like this, in assembly shining bright.
Was the moon of King Raghu’s line,
Which opened up at His shine.
Eyes of the rivals like the Chakora bird,
By Rama’s presence their emotions stirred.
Lord contest to win, pleasure to give,
With devotion in your heart He’ll always live.