“Staring at Rama’s divine beauty made Sita’s mother so happy in the heart. She says, ‘This bow is heavy and this youth is tender, so the Creator desires the wrong outcome.’” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 9.2)
siya mātu haraṣī nirakhi suṣamā ati alaukika rāmakī |
hiya kahati kaham̐ dhanu kunara kaham̐ biparīta gati bidhi bāma kī ||
Though in this scene the laments of a woman give the impression that she is more simple-minded than most, her expressions of unhappiness actually reveal her high level of intelligence. Only a fool would think that the innumerable outcomes that occur every second are due solely to the individual’s will. We may make the choice to act in a certain way, but the outcome is never guaranteed. There are other forces of nature, autonomous beings at that, and also the laws within the nature that one must abide by. Gravity is a simple force that is taken for granted, but the living being must operate according to its direction. Gravity is but one small example to prove the fact that there is a Creator who is responsible for outcomes. Sita’s mother was well aware of this, and since the situation looked dire, she was not happy with the outcome the Creator had given.
“In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Vishnu, and blessed them by saying, ‘Be thou happy by this yajna [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you all desirable things.’” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.10)
In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna says that at the beginning of time, the Lord of creatures set in place the system of sacrifice. Along with the items to be sacrificed were the honored personalities, the entities to enjoy the offerings. If God created the system, why would He appoint others to act as the enjoyers? Why not just have a single destination for all offerings? Why not create a single pathway for sacrifice?
The intent is to gradually build a high level of intelligence. In the immediate vicinity we see outcomes that seem to be affected by actions at the local level. For instance, I decide that I will lift my hand, and voila, my hand moves up. I decide to get up, and the next moment I arise. There is an illusion to this stream of cause-and-effect, as what is not seen is the initial cause. I am in my body right now, but my form was not always this large. At one point in time I was inside of my mother’s womb, which meant that I required a smaller body in order to fit into that tiny space. Prior to that I was in another body, at a time and a place that remain a mystery.
To help us break away from the illusion, to understand that there are higher forces responsible for the results to action, the system of sacrifice was put into place. Sacrifice already exists in society to some degree or another. The electricity in the house doesn’t appear by magic. One must pay tribute to the electric company in order to receive electricity. The same goes for the cable and internet services. In the community at large, there are the taxes paid to the government. The system of sacrifice instituted by Lord Krishna is the way to pay honor to the highest governing authority.
The government exists to carry out specific functions. They are not to enjoy the tax revenue for themselves. The money is supposed to be used for roads, bridges, schools, and most importantly, defense. In a similar manner, the demigods who accept the sacrificial offerings made by the living entities on earth are in charge of various departments. The topmost demigod is Lord Brahma, who is referred to as the Creator in the Vedas. He is the creator in that he is charged with populating the earth. He is not the original Personality of Godhead, nor is he immortal in his present form, but nevertheless all creatures on earth can trace their ancestry back to him.
As a painter has their palette of colors, so Lord Brahma has the three modes of material nature to use in creating. Depending on the species that is desired, more or less of certain ingredients are used. The animals are mostly in the mode of ignorance, while the human beings are mostly in the mode of passion. The governing officials, the demigods, are mostly in the mode of goodness. Thus the wise souls, who understand that God exists and that He delegates responsibilities to authority figures, know that every creature and every outcome is ultimately due to the will of the Creator.
In the circumstance in question, the wife of King Janaka was awaiting the outcome to a bow-lifting contest. The bow was very heavy. It took hundreds of men just to move it into the assembly. The winner would have to lift the bow. The first one to do this would win the prize of Sita’s hand in marriage. Sita was Janaka’s beloved daughter, and her qualities are so splendid that there are prayers offered to her in the same way that they are offered to God.
In the Vedic tradition, there are thousands of names assigned to God by the devotees. The devotees do this as a way to remember and honor Him. To remember God is the best activity, and so to create more avenues for remembrance, the pious souls give so many names to the Supreme Lord. Each name references an attribute or a specific activity performed by God. The attributes relate to features that we already know of, such as beauty, wealth, strength, fame, wisdom and renunciation. As attributes can be used in limitless ways, there are limitless names for God.
Sita is considered on an equal level with God because she is His eternal consort. She loves Him purely, without any personal motive. God is the energetic, and Sita is the energy. Krishna is God, and He has many expansions and incarnations, and in the same way, there are different forms of Sita, such as Goddess Lakshmi and Shrimati Radharani. There are limitless attributes in Sita that are referenced by the devotees when they offer prayers to her.
In this particular situation, Sita was on earth enacting pastimes to coincide with her husband Rama’s. Rama was to be the future husband, as no one had lifted the bow yet. Janaka’s wife saw the presently unmarried Rama in the assembly in Janakpur. He was a beautiful youth at the time, so the queen started to worry over the outcome. We don’t expect young children to lift heavy objects. If anything, we worry over their safety when they are in front of something heavy. And now here was Rama ready to try to lift the bow that no prince had even moved an inch. How was He not going to get hurt?
The queen lamented the hand of fate, how the Creator had left them and desired an outcome opposite to what should have been. She was correct in remembering the Creator and how he is responsible for outcomes, but what she didn’t realize was that Rama was the Supreme Lord, the destined husband for her daughter Sita. He and His younger brother Lakshmana had already defeated the most powerful ogres in the world when the innocent sages in the forest were attacked. The same Rama was ready to lift Shiva’s bow to the amazement of the onlookers. The simple-minded queen would be wonderfully elated at the outcome she never thought was possible.
Queen of Janaka was simple in mind,
But in her high intelligence to find.
That Creator responsible for outcomes she knew,
That vegetables and trees not by magic grew.
Heavy was that bow that in arena did sit,
How was youth Rama with arms going to lift?
Looked like Creator desired outcome wrong,
Which would then bring sadness’ song.
Rama creator of even Brahman the Creator,
In lifting bow proved to be supreme fate maker.