“When Rama looks at Sita, Sita sees Rama. Looking at both of them, Kamadeva sharpens his arrows.” (Janaki Mangala, 84)
rāma dīkha jaba sīya sīya raghunāyaka |
dou tana taki taki mayana sudhārata sāyaka ||
There was no need for Cupid to sharpen his arrows and release them on two parties who were simultaneously interested in each other. As if it were serendipity, Rama looked at Sita and Sita looked at Rama. Neither party had met before, and they weren’t officially betrothed. Rama was there as a guest, and He was soon to participate in the contest, the winner of which would get Sita’s hand in marriage. Yet seeing one another before Rama’s try at lifting the bow created the seed of desire within each, as they wanted to be with each other. Rama was no ordinary competitor, and Sita was no ordinary prize.
Rama is God. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His avatara as a warrior prince. Any person can claim to be God, and we can also tag any notable historical personality as an incarnation of God. Authenticity is required, though, and it is determined by the revealed scriptures and those who follow them. No people are more respected throughout history than the famous acharyas and saints like Narada Muni, Vyasadeva, Lord Chaitanya, Ramanujacharya, Shankaracharya, Shrila Rupa Gosvami, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and Goswami Tulsidas. All of these personalities accept Rama as God, though they might not worship Him specifically. Some choose to worship God as Krishna or Vishnu, but both of them are the same Rama.
These personalities follow the authority of the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in existence. The Vedas discuss Rama’s divine nature at length and also reveal that Sita is the goddess of fortune, who is the energy of God. The energy and the energetic are always linked, a singular entity in a sense. For this reason God in the Vedic tradition is always worshiped alongside His energy. There is Lakshmi and Vishnu, Radha and Krishna, and Sita and Rama.
If God is always with His energy, why were Sita and Rama involved in a marriage yet to be determined? The events that take place on this planet are sort of like a real-life play directed by the Supreme Lord, who kindly casts Himself in the leading role. Sita and Rama marry in the most amazing event, one talked about for thousands of years into the future. It becomes famous even during their time, where word is spread through stories from village to village rather than through newspapers or radio or television broadcast. The word travels all around, keeping others excited in anticipation each time they get to hear about the event.
In the verse quoted above from the Janaki Mangala of Goswami Tulsidas, the reference is made to Kamadeva, the god of love, to show that Sita and Rama had eyes for each other. Rama only wanted Sita as a wife, and Sita only wanted Rama as a husband. Sita’s marriage was to be determined by a pious king, her father King Janaka. He decided that a contest was the way to go, as the show of strength required in lifting Lord Shiva’s amazingly heavy bow would be an indication from above that a perfect match was found.
A match is important for the father because the daughter must be protected in marriage. A weak husband would not do justice to Sita, especially considering that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Other princes would try to take her for themselves, and so the husband had to be able to fend off such villains. Indeed, Sita would be taken from Rama’s side later on through a backhanded plot executed by the purported most powerful man in the world, Ravana. Yet his powers were overestimated, and simultaneously he underestimated Rama’s. The Lord would defeat him and get back His dear wife.
At the occasion of the svayamvara, there was anticipation, as no one knew who was going to win the contest. Upon seeing Rama, who was a handsome youth who entered the city accompanying Vishvamitra Muni, the residents who loved Sita wanted Rama to win. The eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya was there with His younger brother Lakshmana also. Lakshmana could have participated in the contest, but as Rama was the eldest, he would not violate etiquette. In addition, he would never want to defeat Rama in a contest even if he were asked to.
Kamadeva operates on the mortals, instilling lusty desires in them by shooting his arrows. As God, Rama is obviously not susceptible to the influence of mundane lust, but the symbolic reference to Kamadeva is used to show that there was mutual attraction between Sita and Rama. Kamadeva gets ready to shoot his arrows when he sees there is a potential relationship between two parties. The arrows in this instance would have had to have been fired at both Sita and Rama, as it couldn’t be determined who was more desirous of the match.
As Hari, God is one who can take away. He excels at taking away the fears of His devotees, and on this occasion He would not fail to live up to His name. Shri Hari would win the contest by easily lifting up the bow, making the desired union a reality. A feast for the eyes followed, and the match made in heaven would etch its mark in history. The divine couple is still celebrated and worshiped to this day, with Lakshmana and Hanuman, Rama’s dearest servant, included in the picture. Just as Sita and Rama are meant for each other, all living entities are meant for worshiping the Supreme Lord. Through hearing about Sita and Rama’s marriage, we take one step closer to reawakening our dormant love for God.
Looking at the contest’s prize,
Towards her go His eyes.
Him at the same time she sees,
Made for each other are Sita and He.
When into love rush fools,
Kamadeva starts to sharpen his tools.
With Sita and Rama the same it looked,
He glanced at her, His glance too she took.
Shows that love for each other was strong,
Only to Shri Rama does Sita belong.